, Volume 32, Issue 1, pp 37-64

Does telecommuting reduce vehicle-miles traveled? An aggregate time series analysis for the U.S.

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Abstract

. This study examines the impact of telecommuting on passenger vehicle-miles traveled (VMT) through a multivariate time series analysis of aggregate nationwide data spanning 1966–1999 for all variables except telecommuting, and 1988–1998 for telecommuting. The analysis was conducted in two stages. In the first stage, VMT (1966–1999) was modeled as a function of conventional variables representing economic activity, transportation price, transportation supply and socio-demographics. In the second stage, the residuals of the first stage (1988–1998) were modeled as a function of the number of telecommuters. We also assessed the change in annual VMT per telecommuter as well as VMT per telecommuting occasion, for 1998. The models suggest that telecommuting reduces VMT, with 94% confidence. Together with independent external evidence, the results suggest a reduction in annual VMT on the order of 0.8% or less. Even with impacts that small, when informally compared to similar reductions in VMT due to public transit ridership, telecommuting appears to be far more cost-effective in terms of public sector expenditures.