Monday, September 17, 2007

Rush Hour Supersized

Being a first-time big city commuter (with apologies to Huntsville, AL) I am learning about just how long the AM and PM rush hour has become. First of all, calling it 'hour' singular is a misnomer. On a typical day each rush 'time period' is somewhere between 2 and 3 hours each. This supersizing of the rush 'hour' has some interesting side effects.

This is an excellent article in the Sept. 12th USA Today:

Restaurants such as McDonalds are opening earlier and local TV newscasts are seeing the largest gains in the early morning timeslot: As shown in this story about Austin, TX.

What we are seeing is motorist behavior modification. Drivers are adjusting their commutes earlier (or later in some cases) to spread the traffic out over more time.

Cities such as Atlanta have programs that promote tele-commuting 1 or more days a week, taking public transportation, etc... However the largest change I see is more people commuting times away from the typical 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. timeslots.

Where does ITS fit into this? One interesting thing that our local Georgia NaviGAtor makes available to the public is historical travel data on the freeways:

One can select their normal commute and see how much time can be saved by leaving home or work at a different time. Considering only recurring congestion (non-recurring incidents throw everything off normal) ever 15 minutes oen way or another makes a few minutes difference.

Companies are becoming friendlier to shifted work schedules and that makes such trends likely to increase in the future.


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