Happy TDM Week!
What? You haven’t used the #TDMWeek2022 hashtag yet? Not posting your TDM videos to TikTok? Maybe that’s because you spend too much time commuting.
TDM are the not-so-catchy three letters that stand for Transportation Demand Management, which is even less enthralling than the acronym. The term of art is being used this week by Commute.org — the agency in San Mateo County dedicated to traffic mitigation — to draw attention to a plague of modern life in the Bay Area. The agency’s board of directors is composed of politicians from across the county, including Pacifica City Councilman Mike O’Neill and Half Moon Bay City Councilwoman Deborah Penrose.
Managing the demand on area roads is a challenge at all times and sometimes it feels impossible. Commute.org notes that before the pandemic most commuters traveled to work alone, in a car. That was true 30 years ago, and it’s true today, as the pandemic drags on.
Last week the organization’s board heard the results of an employer survey that provided insight into what you already know. The roads are clogging with commuters again. The pandemic break in the commute hasn’t ended entirely, and there may be long-lasting changes in how and when we go to work. One note of caution: The survey respondents were largely in office environments and didn’t adequately represent employers of essential workers.
Among the findings:
▸ While 23 percent of surveyed employers say workers aren’t coming to the office at all yet, 25 percent say the return is complete and their workforce is in the office five days a week.
▸ A third of the employers that required no face time now guessed that they would within the next six months.
▸ Interestingly, there appears to be a bulge in the middle of the week. Employers are inclined to let workers stay at home on Mondays and Fridays. The most onerous commute is shaping up to be Wednesday, when 48 percent of surveyed employers expected workers in the office. (That compares to only 27 percent on Fridays.)
▸ Only 19 percent of these employers expected their workforce to remain fully remote after the pandemic. The question has been asked monthly and that is the lowest response in at least a year.
▸ Perhaps the worst news of all: Use of public transit has plummeted, according to this survey. Employers said nearly half of their workers used transit options before the pandemic and now put the figure at only 28 percent of workers.
Commute.org has come to some conclusions based on all this research. Among them, hybrid workplaces are here to stay with two-thirds of workplaces requiring three or fewer in-person days a week. We might add that employers seem to be rethinking remote-only situations and placing value on time in office. And these results are more bad news for bus, rail and ferry services in the Bay Area, which have all struggled to regain their footing now that so many of us are wary of crowds and touching whatever that was on the seat next to us.
Silver linings were hard to come by over the last couple of years, but one might have been less traffic on the roads. We might have hoped that new tech tools would help us work from home indefinitely, easing stress on family life and area roads. One thing we might reflect on in TDM Week 2022 is just how fleeting that relief might have been.
— Clay Lambert