Working From Home and its Effects on Post-Pandemic Travel

Research Team: Brian Taylor (lead), Julene Paul, Fariba Siddiq, Samuel Speroni

UC Campus(es): UCLA

Problem Statement: While many aspects of life have largely returned to pre-pandemic patterns as the COVID-19 pandemic has become endemic, several aspects of travel remain unsettled and uncertain. In particular, the forced experiment of working from home for at least half of the labor force in 2020 is evolving into a new normal where perhaps a third of all workers split their work hours between office and home. This has had especially significant effects on public transit, which has traditionally carried a disproportionate share of commute trips, but these new work patterns have affected the timing and character of many other trips as well. These evolving patterns of travel may call into question many current transportation policies and plans that are premised on (now) outdated ideas about travel.

Project Description: This small project will build on recent RIMI projects examining (1) research on telecommuting and travel and (2) data from the company StreetLight Data for the SCAG region on the shifting timing of trip-making and its implications for public transit demand. This additional work will consider shifts in the patterns of trip purposes and their implications for traffic and travel. For example, fewer commute trips mean fewer opportunities to combine shopping and other errands with trips to and from work. Instead, workers may be more likely to take breaks during their workdays to run errands and grocery shop. This may mean that peak hour congestion will be lower (due to fewer commute trips and to fewer errands as part of those commute trips), but more vehicle travel (due to more freestanding trips from home and less trip chaining). Such shifts, if borne out by the data, have implications for efforts to reduce both congestion (good) and increase vehicle travel (bad), and those results will inform policy making in this regard.

Status: In Progress

Budget: $35,000