The Differential Accessibility Effects of Work from Home: Travel Behavior Outcomes and Transportation Equity Implications

Term Start:

January 1, 2024

Term End:

June 30, 2025




Accessibility, Equity, Telework

Thrust Area(s):

Equity and Understanding User Needs

University Lead:

University of Washington


Qing Shen

Researchers have long highlighted the potential effects of telework on the geography of opportunity in metropolitan areas. Telework, despite increasing accessibility to certain job markets, can further cause employment and population to decentralize, facilitating a spatially dispersed pattern of metropolitan growth. This could exacerbate existing disparities and inequities, making it harder for disadvantaged and transit-dependent groups to access important opportunities. Similarly, the central city’s position in the geography of opportunity could continue to decline as jobs and services become more dispersed. Low-income and minority groups are likely disproportionately affected by the spatial reconfigurations caused by telecommunications.  However, the lack of spatially disaggregated empirical data has made it difficult to predict the relative contributions of geographic locations, transportation modes, and telecommunications capabilities in determining accessibility differentials.

The proposed research will address the following questions:

How does work-from-home differentially impact the geography of opportunity and accessibility of population groups for jobs and other services? How can accessibility measures be updated to reflect changes in work-from-home adoption, travel frequency, pattern, and mode choice? What are the impacts of differential accessibility on travel behavior outcomes of essential and non-essential workers? What are the desirable changes in public transit services and TDM policies to help the spatially disadvantaged, especially essential workers, to reduce the accessibility gaps?

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