Publication Detail

Telecommuting and Travel Demand: An Impact Assessment for State of California Telecommute Pilot Project Participants


Research Report

Suggested Citation:
Kitamura, Ryuichi, Konstadinos G. Goulias, Ram M. Pendyala (1991) Telecommuting and Travel Demand: An Impact Assessment for State of California Telecommute Pilot Project Participants. Institute of Transportation Studies, University of California, Davis, Research Report UCD-ITS-RR-91-13

The impact of telecommuting on travel demand is researched and evaluated in this study using travel data collected as part of the State of California Telecommute Pilot Project (telecommuting is defined as the performance of work outside the traditional central office, either at home or at a neighborhood center close to home). The main body of the analysis is based on three-day trip records of 146 State employees and their household members, of which 66 are telecommuters. These telecommuters, mostly in the Sacramento metropolitan area, telecommuted on the average 1.25 days during the three-day survey periods.

The results of the statistical analysis presented in this report offer strong evidence that telecommuting is an effective trip reduction measure. The findings of this study include:
  • Telecommuting serves as a trip reduction measure which reduces commute trips without resulting in an increase in non-work trips. An estimated total of 4 trips can be reduced per five-day week if a worker telecommutes twice a week.
  • The total travel distance can be reduced by 40 miles per telecommuting day, based on the study sample of State employees mostly in the Sacramento area.
  • Telecommuting reduces peak-period trips. On a day when workers telecommute, morning-peak trips are reduced on the average by over 75%, and afternoon-peak trips by about 60%.
  • Telecommuters make fewer car trips.
  • Trips made on telecommuting days are much shorter.
  • Trips made on telecommuting days involve less freeway travel and tend to be home-based.
  • The household members of telecommuters do not increase car use even when additional family cars may have become available for their use because of telecommuting.
The study results point to the great potential telecommuting has in mitigating traffic congestion, improving air quality, and reducing transportation energy consumption. These study results warrant a new study to assess the regional impact of telecommuting. As the building blocks of this regional assessment, the following tasks are recommended for future research:
  • Geo-coding of the spatial information in the data file developed in this study,
  • Evaluation of changes in the spatial and temporal distribution of trips as a result of telecommuting,
  • Further examination of trip linking patterns,
  • Development of models to describe changes in mode use as a result of telecommuting, and
  • Identification of socio-demographic and mobility characteristics of potential telecommuters.
The results of this future research can be utilized in a region-wide network analysis to obtain volume, speed, and other information pertinent to the determination of the levels of traffic congestion, pollutant emission, and fuel consumption.