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Healthy Economy and Decent Gas Prices and Reduced Congestion - Is it Possible

Posted By: Adeel Lari on 8/20/2009

A recent report by the Texas Transportation Institute (TTI) found that although traffic congestion is down, costs to commuters are still rising. In 2007, commuters spent one hour less stuck in traffic and wasted one less gallon of gas than they did in the year 2006. According to the 26th Urban Mobility Report, this was primarily due to higher gas prices.

At best, this is mixed news. Traffic jams still cost $87.2 billion dollars in lost time, productivity and fuel in the year 2007 according to TTI. Over 2.8 billion gallons gasoline was wasted that year – enough to fill each commuter’s gas tank for three weeks.

Another issue the TTI report raised was that although the current recession will prolong this dip in congestion, traffic volumes will certainly rise when the economy improves. But… what should we do if we want both a healthy economy, decent gas prices, and reduced congestion? …too much to ask? Well, the report goes on to propose a number of long-lasting solutions… including flexible work hours and teleworking!

Although businesses can’t participate in reducing congestion through the creation of toll lanes or bike paths, it is certainly feasible to participate in telework. What will that save your company as an employer? You as an employee? All of us as a community?

Although I could probably leave that as a rhetorical question, there is one tool you could use to give you an estimate of your individual commuting cost. Our eWorkPlace Commute Tool is a calculator that helps you see your own monetary costs as well as your environmental costs via annual greenhouse emissions.

Frequently, the numbers are striking. It goes to show that individuals really can make a difference… but it’s easier when the barriers are lowered.

In this case, eWorkPlace can help you, your company, and all of us change the way we think about work as well as the ways we can contribute to the reduction of congestion and the growth in savings. Forgive me, I’ve probably said something similar before, but I have a tendency to repeat myself when I really believe in something.

Adeel Lari, M.B.A., P.E.
Director of Innovative Financing, Research Fellow, and Teleworker
Hubert H. Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs
University of Minnesota

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