A Little More Remote Work Could Change Rush Hour a Lot

Emily Badger : nytimes – excerpt

There is something uniquely awful about that time of day when there is no good way to get around. The car horns sound nastier as downtown traffic snarls. The elbows feel sharper on a jammed subway. The sight of red brake lights is soul-crushing when they lead on a highway all the way to the horizon.

Mere mention of it makes the body tense up: rush hour.

But for much of the pandemic, it vanished. Not only did people travel less over the past year, with schools closed, restaurants off-limits, and millions of workers unemployed or at home; they also traveled less in a very particular way. Rush hour peaks flattened, smoothing travel demand around cities across the country into a low-grade continuous flow, a Tuesday morning not so different from a Saturday afternoon…

About a third of workers in the U.S. hold jobs that economists say could be done remotely. Suppose many of them worked from home one day a week, or opted occasionally to read email in their bathrobes before heading in. Overall, we’d be talking on a given day about a decline of a few percentage points in peak commuting trips — a small number, but a big deal during the most painful parts of the day…

Transportation researchers have observed the benefits of marginal changes in commute behavior on Jewish holidays, when most employers remain open but a small share of commuters stays home. In Washington, D.C., compressed schedules and telework policies for federal workers had created noticeably saner traffic on Friday mornings. On the region’s Metrorail, peak ridership before the pandemic was consistently 10% to 15% lower on Fridays than midweek.

New routines emerging from the pandemic could re-create this dynamic on a broader scale…(more)

Hopefully SFMTA will re-design their programs to fit our needs so we can be happier traveling in comfort while maintaining our persona space in our vehicle of choice. They might even offer more physical amenities to public transit riders by returning the bus stops and seats they removed to cram more people in and move them faster. We are not sardine cans that need to move swiftly down a conveyer belt. We are human beings that appreciate reliability, comfort and quality service.

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