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The Trade-Off Between Trips and Distance Traveled in Analyzing the Emissions Impacts of Center-Based Telecommuting

  • Author(s): Mokhtarian, Patricia
  • Varma, Krishna
  • et al.
Abstract

Several travel indicators were compared between telecommuting (TC) days and non-telecommuting days for a sample of 72 center-based telecommuters in California. Distance traveled decreased significantly on TC days, with average reductions of 51 person-miles (58%) and 35 vehicle-miles (53%). When weighted by telecommuting frequency, average reductions of 11.9% in PMT and 11.5% in VMT were found over a five-day work week. Person-trips and vehicle-trips increased slightly (but not significantly) on TC days. This was due to statistically significant increases in commute trips by telecommuters (who more often went home for lunch on their TC days), partly counteracted by decreases in non-commute travel. The drive-alone mode share increased on TC days, both for all trips, and for commute trips in particular. Walking and biking shares also increased modestly on TC days, whereas shares of transit and ridesharing declined. Despite the increase in trip rates, TC-day reductions were found for all pollutants analyzed: 15% for total organic gas emissions, 21% for carbon monoxide, 35% for oxides of nitrogen, and 51% for particulate matter. The reduction in VMT more than compensated for the marginal increase in number of trips (and consequently, cold starts) on telecommuting days.

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