A huge swath of the workforce has been working from home since at least March--if the goal is to reduce carbon emissions, MTC staff suggest maybe that's how things should remain.
he Metropolitan Transportation Commission is adding a new carbon-reduction strategy to its “Plan Bay Area 2050 Final Blueprint” document–a mandate that large companies that currently have the majority of their staff working from home as part of the COVID-19 lockdown continue to do so permanently.
MTC Regional Planning Program Director Matt Maloney, who presented the proposal to the agency’s board Wednesday, talked about how the region must invest in dense housing adjacent to robust transit to fight climate change, investing more in “BART, Caltrain, SMART, Valley Link, VTA Light Rail, and Regional Express Bus.”
However, he said, in order to reach targets, there’s no single solution, and a telecommuting mandate is also necessary to hit the 25 percent reduction goals currently sought.
The updated plan mandates that employers:
Build upon the significant shift to work from home during COVID-19 and mandate that large employers have at least 60 percent of their employees telecommute on any given workday. This requirement would be limited to large office-based employers whose workforce can work remotely… This could enable an increase from the projected telecommute share of 14 percent in the Draft Blueprint to up to as high as 25 percent in the Final Blueprint, recognizing that half of the workforce has a job that must be completed in-person (not eligible for telecommuting).
The MTC plan also recommends investing $10 billion to expand broadband internet to low-income communities, to avoid leaving people out of this new paradigm.
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Commissioner Nick Josefowitz, who represents San Francisco on the board, brought up concerns that were echoed by other commissioners and members of the public. He pointed out that people who live in small apartments with family members and roommates won’t want to continue working from home. In addition, “Work From Home mandates also penalize downtowns. Our whole city relies on workers coming to downtown San Francisco and preventing them from coming even if they’re taking BART, AC Transit, Muni or bike or walking, is going to do real harm.”
Josefowitz and others wanted the mandate amended to target drivers specifically for work-from-home requirements. “I propose we just say 60 percent of workers who don’t use public transportation or walk or bike have to work from home.”