NJ.com: COVID changed how we work. Experts say commuting in N.J. must now change, too. - Garden State Initiative



NJ.com: COVID changed how we work. Experts say commuting in N.J. must now change, too.

January 28, 2021


By Larry Higgs

Transit agencies have to make changes to their service and operations to prepare for how the work week and commuting patterns will be different in a post-coronavirus world, said experts discussing the issue on Tuesday.

While some experts participating in a Garden State Initiative panel discussion said people want to go back to the workplace, the work week and commute between New Jersey and New York will not look the same as it did before COVID-19.

No one could predict when people will return to the office in force. Instead, some experts predict the work week will be a hybrid model of working from home several days, and going to the office several days.

“We probably won’t go back to a five days-a-week commute. People will go in to the office for two to three days and work at home two to three days a week,” said Nicole Gelinas, a Manhattan Institute senior urban economic fellow and author.

So far, after New York saw a holiday travel bump, Gelinas estimated pedestrian traffic is at the same levels seen last April, when streets were pretty vacant. So far, only about 20% of Manhattan office workers have returned to work places, she said.

Some of that return depends on the effectiveness of the coronavirus vaccine, which currently is in short supply.

“It is possible the vaccine will be 80 to 90% effective, so we have another year of muddling through,” said Jon Carnegie, executive director of the Voorhees Transportation Center at Rutgers University.

“Starting in the fall, we might start to see experimentation of what the post-COVID normal might be,” he said. “Even with the vaccine, social distancing and things like that in offices will remain the norm for years to come.”

Read the full report here.