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Does Flexitime Affect Choice of Departure Time for Morning Home-Based Commuting Trips? Evidence from Two Regions in California

Sylvia He

Over the past twenty-five years, more workers in the United States have been given the option of flexible work schedules, which are designed to redistribute commuter traffic over the course of a day by allowing employees to vary their arrival and/or departure times. This research examines whether and to what degree access to flexible work schedules affects the departure times of commuters in the two largest and most congested areas of California: the Los Angeles and San Francisco regions. Trip data were obtained from the 2009 U.S. National Household Travel Survey. The results of this study show that people who have access to Flexitime preferred later departure times rather than earlier times. Workers with flexible schedules were 3.30% less likely to depart before peak hours, 4.11% less likely during peak hours, and 7.41% more likely afterwards. While transit projects may take years to complete and their impact on highway congestion has yet to be fully evaluated, flexitime offers employees a choice to accommodate preferences for off-peak departure times. In congested regions, regional associations of governments can encourage the design and provision of more transportation demand management (TDM) strategies and alternative work schedules (AWS), such as flexitime by public and private employers, as well advertise to the daily commuters the benefits of these programs and options. In that way, the congestion may be alleviated both from the supply side through long-term transit investment projects and from the demand side through immediate TDM and AWS strategies. This research was conducted while the PI was a visiting research fellow at Technische Universität München (TUM), Germany. The project is funded by the Institute for Mobility Research (ifmo), a research facility of the BMW Group.

Fig 1. Traffic congestion in California


Fig 2. Number of home-based commute trip departures in the Los Angeles region