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Broadband To Cut Road Congestion?

Posted: 07th Oct, 2004 By: MarkJ
BT has begun promoting broadband Internet access as a viable means of cutting road congestion. Essentially broadband users spend more time shopping and working from home than in their cars:

In a report published today, entitled Broadband: the role for communications in beating congestion*, the company suggests that flexible working and staggered commuting times, the ability to work from home and increased take-up of online shopping could make a major contribution to an issue which the CBI estimates costs the UK £20bn a year.

Department for Transport data show that of the distance we travel by cars and taxis (81 per cent of the total distance driven), almost three-fifths (59 per cent) can be accounted for by a combination of commuting (25 per cent), business travel (15 per cent), shopping (12 per cent) and personal business (seven per cent).

A 10 per cent reduction in these areas (six per cent of the total distance travelled) would save 14.5 billion miles a year. This equates to 17 million cars foregoing a trip from Land's End to John O'Groats or about three years' growth in car and taxi traffic at today's rates. BT believes that this could be substituted by broadband communications activities such as flexible working and on-line shopping.

Commuting accounts for twenty-five per cent of car mileage. Achieving a 10 per cent target reduction in this area will require a commitment by employers to support and encourage appropriate flexible and remote working.

Research carried out by NOP in 2003 found that among internet users who travel to work every weekday, 23 per cent would like the option of working from home but that the proportion of employers prepared allow them to so do was much lower, at 13 per cent.

BT also believes that 10 per cent of business mileage could be eliminated by conferencing (audio, video and web). Only about two per cent of Britain's 1.9 million businesses currently use conference calling so there is ample room for growth.

It's definitely a unique way of promoting high speed Internet access and not without foundation.

However, there would have to be a far greater shift of working practices for it to have the impact highlighted and we can’t see that happening.
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