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Using Travel Diary Data to Estimate the Emissions Impacts of Transportation Strategies: The Puget Sound Telecommuting Demonstration Project

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  • Henderson, Dennis K.
  • Koenig, Brett E.
  • Mokhtarian, Patricia L.

Abstract

Transportation control measures are often implemented for their environmental benefits, but there is a need to quantify what benefits actually occur. Telecommuting has the potential to reduce the number of daily trips and miles traveled with personal vehicles and, consequently, the overall emissions resulting from vehicle activity. This search studies the emissions impacts of telecommuting for the participants of the Puget Sound Telecommuting Demonstration Project (PSTDP). The California Air Resources Board's emissions models, EMFAC7F and BURDEN7F, are used to estimate the emissions on telecommuting days and non-telecommuting days, based on travel diaries completed by program participants. This study, among the first of its kind, represents the most sophisticated application of emissions models to travel diary data. Analysis of the travel diary data and the emissions model output supports the hypothesis that telecommuting has beneficial transportation and air quality impacts. The most important results are that telecommuting decreases the number of daily trips (by 30%), the vehicle-miles traveled (VMT) (by 63%), and the number of cold starts (by 44%), especially those taking place in early morning. These reductions are shown to have a large effect on daily emissions, with a 50% to 60% decrease in pollutants generated by a telecommuter's personal vehicle use on a telecommuting day. These net savings are almost entirely due to the elimination of commute trips, as non-commute trips increased by 0.33 trips per person-day (9% of the total trips), and the non-commute VMT increased by 2.2 miles. Overall reductions in travel and emissions of this magnitude are observed because the telecommuters in this sample are long-distance commuters, with commutes twice as long as the regional average. However, even as telecommuting adoption moves into the mainstream, its net impacts are still expected to be beneficial -- a reduction in VMT and in emissions. It is important to note that when the level of telecommuting is considered (that is, the percentage of work days that employees actually telecommute), the weekly savings are a much smaller proportion of total weekday travel. Also, these findings represent average per-capita reductions; the aggregate (or overall, regionwide) impacts are determined by scaling these reductions by the number of program participants. Thus, the aggregate effectiveness of telecommuting must take into account the number of people likely to participate as telecommuters and how often they telecommute, not just the per-capita, per-occasion impacts.

Suggested Citation

  • Henderson, Dennis K. & Koenig, Brett E. & Mokhtarian, Patricia L., 1996. "Using Travel Diary Data to Estimate the Emissions Impacts of Transportation Strategies: The Puget Sound Telecommuting Demonstration Project," University of California Transportation Center, Working Papers qt0g01v83p, University of California Transportation Center.
  • Handle: RePEc:cdl:uctcwp:qt0g01v83p
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Mokhtarian, Patricia L., 1991. "Telecommuting and Travel: State of the Practice, State of the Art," University of California Transportation Center, Working Papers qt4zc486ph, University of California Transportation Center.
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    Cited by:

    1. Henderson, Dennis K. & Mokhtarian, Patricia L., 1996. "Impacts of Center-Based Telecommuting on Travel and Emissions: Analysis of the Puget Sound Demonstration Project," University of California Transportation Center, Working Papers qt1250382t, University of California Transportation Center.
    2. Mokhtarian, Patricia & Varma, Krishna, 1998. "The Trade-Off Between Trips and Distance Traveled in Analyzing the Emissions Impacts of Center-Based Telecommuting," Institute of Transportation Studies, Working Paper Series qt43b756qg, Institute of Transportation Studies, UC Davis.
    3. Balepur, Prashant Narayan, 1998. "Impacts of Computer-Mediated Communication on Travel and Communication Patterns: The Davis Community Network Study," Institute of Transportation Studies, Research Reports, Working Papers, Proceedings qt6cb1f85c, Institute of Transportation Studies, UC Berkeley.
    4. Shafizadeh, K. & Niemeier, D. & Mokhtarian, P. & Salomon, I., 1998. "The Costs And Benefits Of Telecommuting: An Evaluation Of Macro-scale Literature," Institute of Transportation Studies, Research Reports, Working Papers, Proceedings qt1f01c191, Institute of Transportation Studies, UC Berkeley.
    5. repec:eee:transa:v:103:y:2017:i:c:p:1-24 is not listed on IDEAS
    6. Walls, Margaret & Safirova, Elena, 2004. "What Have We Learned from a Recent Survey of Teleworkers? Evaluating the 2002 SCAG Survey," Discussion Papers dp-04-43, Resources For the Future.

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    Social and Behavioral Sciences;

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