The San Diego Association of Governments (SANDAG) says fewer cars on the road amid the coronavirus pandemic are helping to cut down on air pollution in the region, and leaders are hoping more telecommute options will be made available post-pandemic.
“In our region, air quality, where the measuring stations are, we’re 73% better than it was a year ago,” SANDAG’s executive director Hasan Ikhrata said. “We see an opportunity here for more employers to allow their employees to work from home at least some of the time and that could have a huge impact."
SANDAG has been pushing for more telecommuting for years, and In 2014 the agency invested in providing more biking, walking, and public transportation routes for people trying to get to work.
In 2016, SANDAG received a federal grant for a pilot program to research telecommuting using 10 companies.
“Frankly, we couldn’t get 10 to participate, only had 4, which is amazing when you think about it. Now we’re actually doing a survey as we speak and we’re going to get the results shortly,” Ikhrata said.
Once those results are back, the agency wants to see what the impact is on the air and transportation needs when telecommuting is done on a large scale.
“I’m going to ask the board to put millions of dollars toward encouraging employers to do that,” he said.
Only time will tell if telecommuting sticks around after society reopens, but, ikhrata said it will be the main way to cut down on traffic and air pollution.
SANDAG plans on releasing its 2021 transportation plan soon.