Impacts of Center-Based Telecommuting on Travel and Emissions: Analysis of the Puget Sound Demonstration Project
Center-based telecommuting has many hypothesized benefits. To determine its value as a transportation demand management strategy, however, its travel-related benefits must be established quantitatively. This research provides the first analysis of the impacts of center-based telecommuting on individual travel behavior and emissions, using travel diary data from the Puget Sound Telecommuting Demonstration Project. An analysis of personal vehicle usage for this small sample of workers showed that the number of vehicle-miles traveled (VMT) was reduced significantly as a result of center-based telecommuting (from 63.25 miles per person-day on non- telecommuting days to 29.31 miles on telecommuting days). The reductions in weekday VMT comprise significant reductions ha commute-related VMT with insignificant changes in non-commute- related VMT. The number of personal vehicle trips did not change significantly. In essence, center-based telecommuters behave as conventional commuters in terms of their number of trips, but are more similar to home-based telecommuters in terms of VMT reductions. The significant reduction in VMT translates into a 49% decrease in oxides of nitrogen (NOx) emissions and a 53% decrease in particulate matter (PM) emissions comparing telecommuting days to non-telecommuting days for the small sample. Because the number of daily trips was not impacted by telecommuting, the levels of emissions associated with the cold start process, total organic gases (TOG) and carbon monoxide (CO), were essentially unaffected. Of course, region-wide impacts will be much smaller when the proportion of telecommuters in the workforce and the frequency of telecommuting is considered.