The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's (CDC) recently released guidelines on how people should commute to work and how offices should function during the coronavirus pandemic has sparked fears of traffic congestions and emissions. CDC new guidelines reverse years of public policy guidance on how people should commute to the office.
Although it is still unclear what commuting will look like as more people return to offices over the next few weeks, signs are clear that many would be avoiding public transport. Naturally, if more people commute in private vehicles, there will be more traffic congestions.
New Guidelines Raises Environment Concerns
According to the new guidelines CDC has encouraged people to avoid public transport and use private vehicles while commuting to office. Per the new guidelines, CDC has suggested people to drive to work by themselves if feasible and has advised corporations to provide incentives for employees to drive by themselves. This has raised concerns over unbearable traffic congestions and surge in carbon emissions.
There are already signs that more people will be turning to driving cars instead of using mass transit to stay away from the deadly coronavirus. Officials and environmentalists have already criticized the CDC guidelines as encouraging gridlock traffic in crowded cities. However, the advice may be more effective in rural areas. Also, transportation experts have warned that densely populated cities that have people commuting from outside suburbs cannot handle this sudden rise in cars on roads and bridges.
Broader Framework Required
While CDC's intensions are noble, the coronavirus has raised fears in everyone's mind and more people are likely to avail private vehicles to work in the coming days. In fact, data published by Apple Maps reveal a rapid surge in direction requests for people using private cars over the past few months, while direction requests through mass transit have remained relatively low since plummeting at the start of the Covid-19 outbreak.
Transportation experts are of the opinion that cities should address this problem by coming up with innovative ways to ease traffic. Many have suggested cities should solve traffic gridlock by creating bike lanes as some cities have seen an increase in memberships for bike-sharing programs during the pandemic.
Moreover, the new guidelines have also raised climate change concerns. The transportation sector generates the maximum greenhouse gas emissions in the United States, with cars and trucks accounting for one-fifth of the total emissions according to the Environmental Protection Agency.
Although Energy Information Administration in its May Short-Term Energy Outlook predicted that carbon emissions would decline 11% in 2020 owing to the coronavirus-related travel ban, more private vehicles on road would once again increase the emission level.