Congestion, by every measure, has increased substantially over the 30 years covered in this report. And congestion is “recovering” from the improvements seen during the economic recession; many regions have seen congestion get worse as the economy gets better. As in past regional recessions (see California’s dot com bubble in the early 2000s) when the economy recovers, so does traffic congestion and when unemployment lines shrank, lines of bumper-to-bumper traffic grew. […]Congestion affects people who travel during the peak period. The average commuter…[s]pent an extra 38 hours traveling in 2011, up from 16 hours in 1982…[and w]asted 19 gallons of fuel in 2011—a week’s worth of fuel for the average U.S. driver—up from 8 gallons in 1982.
Your commute takes a toll on your mental health, it hurts the environment, and it carries both a real cost (in gasoline) and an opportunity cost (in wasted time). And as the report mentions, these costs will continue to grow as the economy picks up speed.But does that make sense? The US is pioneering a transition to an information-based economy less reliant on the production of material things. Why then do we waste so much time and money commuting to a physical office? Telework is an attractive alternative. We’ve sung its praises before: it can make workers more productive, save companies money on office real estate, help employees strike a healthier work-life balance, and cut down on their dreaded commutes.A post-industrial economy both requires and deserves a post-industrial work scheme.[Traffic image courtesy of Hung Chung Chih/Shutterstock.com]