MASTER'S PROJECT: Post COVID remote work impacts on travel demand and sustainability
The objective of this project is to evaluate the impact of the global pandemic on future travel and associated energy use, emissions, and cost ramifications. The project will characterize and quantify the environmental and economic effects from potential shifts in mobility patterns and work locations related to work from home activities after COVID compared to pre-COVID business as usual (BAU).
We will develop an accounting framework and life cycle based model to evaluate energy, emissions and cost effects of mobility after COVID compared to pre-COVID BAU. This study will elucidate VMT effects, travel time, and costs to workers and employers related to remote work. Model simulations will explore alternative scenarios based on employee characteristics such as home work station, commuting vehicle types, and travel distances. The research deliverables will include a parametric model, an assessment of the effects of remote working on future travel and vehicle demand, and an assessment of the associated sustainability and cost benefits.
A parametric model of post-COVID commuting will be constructed to simulate and evaluate alternative remote work and related travel demand impact scenarios. Commuting by private vehicle accounted for 88.2% of commuting VMT in 2017. Thus, the study will focus automobile commuting travel demand in the US although potential shifts to other modes (e.g., public transit), trip purposes (e.g. shopping, social activities) and vehicle occupancy will be considered. Increases in remote work will directly reduce commuter VMT but could also indirectly increase other household trips (e.g., extra trips for shopping or social activities). This could have important implications for new vehicles sales including changes in the overall number of sales as well as shifting market share for vehicle segments that support place-based work (e.g. vans and trucks). We will evaluate potential changes in the vehicle market and stock by leveraging the MA3T model from Oak Ridge National Laboratory.