Plan Bureau: ‘teleworking no miracle cure for traffic jams’
Even if we continue teleworking, traffic pressure will remain high. That is the conclusion of a study by the Federal Planning Bureau (Federaal Planbureau, FPB). It probably has to become one of the ingredients of a larger set of measures to solve our actual mobility problems.
Although teleworking is a structural way to improve mobility on roads and highways, it is no miracle cure, the study shows. And it will not be enough to solve traffic congestion. According to the FPB, a structural extension of teleworking – 39% of Belgian employees working two days a week from home – will only have a limited effect on traffic.
The total number of kilometers driven remains stable (-1,2%). Commuting would decline (-5,8%), but this will be compensated by trips for ‘other reasons’, like dropping the children at the school gate or shopping.
Lots of commuters do these things on their way home, so, when teleworking, they still will make these movements. The interaction between more movements for other motives and less commuting seems to be significant, so the effect of one additional day of teleworking will be relatively limited.
Best for Brussels
The total pressure on our road network will hardly change if we all start teleworking massively, the FPB predicts. Trips will be rearranged but not decline, at the expense of train transport. We will avoid long-distance travel during rush hours and replace them with short trips during off-peak hours.
Teleworking does relieve the rush hours on important junctions when congestion occurs. Commuting traffic to Brussels could decrease by almost a quarter (-23%).
“Frankly, we expected that teleworking would have a larger impact on road traffic,” says Benoît Laine, co-author of the FPB study, in the newspaper De Standaard. “On the other hand, teleworking is only reserved for a minority of the working population. Many teleworkers already opt for other transport means than their cars.”