Thursday, November 19, 2009

A commute solution

Many of the things we do for the environment come from making many small adjustments over long periods of time. The introduction of more fuel efficient vehicles and the retirement of older gas guzzlers eventually results, over time, in the use of much much less fuel and the associated reduction in pollution. Similarly, recycling of waste materials further reduces the energy use that would be required to produce new items from raw materials. Over time, this also has great impact on the environment.

I think something similar can be done to minimize commute traffic. Telecommuting has the result of instant reductions in traffic but probably only in a limited amount due to the current nature of face to face employer/employee relationships.

My thought, in a nut shell, is for businesses to hire the prospective employee who lives closest to the business doing the hiring.

In any job being filled, (assuming an adequate supply of applicants), there will be little job related difference between the top contenders. Hiring will more relate to the decision being made by the person doing the hiring than to absolute job capabilities. And, most of this will be subjective.

Why not instead simply hire the person from the top tier of candidates who lives closest to the job?

Over time, this would result in large portions of the work force having shorter commutes and thereby reducing long distance commutes. This in turn, would lessen the number of employees, commuters, clogging up the roads during the commute period. It will also provide more likelihood that transit will be used by short distance commuters further reducing traffic.

We mostly have a picture of employees commuting from the suburbs to central city jobs. This isn’t necessarily correct. In major metropolitan areas as much as 75% of the home to work trips aren’t to the central city but between suburbs. This offers the opportunity for more reduction in long distance commutes with the additional reduction in traffic and fuel consumption.

Think about this and how, over time, everyone would save time, money and the frustration with traffic. Only new hires would be affected and only a policy decision to hire the closest applicant would be required.

Business doesn’t usually feel responsible for paying for off site programs. Here’s a program that’s centered on their work locations, that can benefit everyone at no additional cost.

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