Science and Technology

The impact of COVID‐19 on time/monetary cost of commuting

David Hensher

Professor David Hensher is nothing if not prolific in his output, and along with a new paper entitled, The impact of COVID‐19 on the time and monetary cost outlays for commuting ‐ the case of the Greater Sydney Metropolitan Area after three months of restrictions, he has also recently authored two new books.

The new paper, downloadable below, is co-authored with Edward Wei, Matthew J. Beck, and Camila Balbontin.

Here is the paper’s abstract:

This paper estimates the reduction in money and time costs associated with a reduction in commuting activity in the Greater Sydney Metropolitan Area (GSMA) during a period of the COVID-19 pandemic in which we started to see an easing of restrictions. As of late May 2020, three months after COVID-19 resulted in restrictions in Australia, we saw an annual travel time reduction for all commuters in the GSMA of $5.58 billion. This represents a 54.02% reduction in the Pre-COVID-19 total time costs of $10.3 billion, much of which we would suggest can be associated with reductions in congestion’s costs.

Adjusting further for reduced employment volumes relative to pre-COVID-19 levels, to take into account reduced commuting activity due, in part, to a lower volume of work associated with a loss of employment or lower employment hours (data shows that compared to pre-COVID levels there has been a 21% reduction in the volume of work), the annual time cost reduction for all commuters who still have regular pre-COVID-19 levels of employment are estimated as $4.4 billion. Hence there is $1.17 billion worth of reduced time costs associated with significantly reduced employment hours, including a loss of employment. The implications for road investment linked to congestion in particular is profound, and shows how much of an increase in benefit to society, through congestion busting, can be obtained by more flexible work arrangements, even allowing for some switching into car out of public transport.


More Hensher

We’ve published quite a bit of content with Professor Hensher lately, including:

New books

Also, we mentioned above that he has recently published two new books. The titles are listed below, along with links to download flyers for both books.

Understanding Mobility as a Service (MaaS): Past, present and future
Bus transport demand, economics, contracting and policy

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