While being allowed to telecommute is a beloved perk for some employees, among most IT professionals—for whom being "on task" means being "on-site"—working remotely is not even an option.
Meanwhile, as most workers in small and large metropolitan areas can attest, commutes are getting worse, not better. Traffic congestion has created a $78 billion annual drain on the U.S. economy in the form of 4.2 billion lost hours and 2.9 billion gallons of wasted fuel—or 105 million weeks of vacation and 58 fully loaded supertankers.
These are among the findings of a new study from the Texas Transportation Institute's 2007 Urban Mobility Report, released Sept. 18. In all 437 of the nation's urban areas, congestion is getting worse.
"There is no 'magic' technology or solution on the horizon because there is no single cause of congestion," noted study co-author Tim Lomax, a research engineer at TTI. "The good news is that there are multiple strategies involving traffic operations and public transit available right now that if applied together, can lessen this problem."
The average worker traveling to work during peak hours will spend an extra 38 hours of travel time and consume an additional 26 gallons of fuel, at a cost of $710 per traveler per year, according to the study.
The Los Angeles area, at an average annual delay of 72 hours per traveler, was the worst, or in first place for roadway congestion in the report, followed by a three-way tie between the San Francisco and Oakland, Calif. areas, Washington and Atlanta, all with 60 hours per traveler. Dallas-Fort Worth (58 hours), San Diego (57 hours), Houston (56 hours) and a three-way tie between Detroit, San Jose, Calif. and Orlando, Fla. (54 hours each) filled out the top 10.
Between 1982 and 2005, Chicago and San Diego were the metropolitan areas with the biggest decline in commute quality.