ITE Journal - July 2020 - 6

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EDITORIAL STAFF
Holly Gilbert Stowell

Looking Ahead
As states and cities begin to "reopen," there is a lot of discussion
about what the post-COVID-19 world might look like. I think of
it as happening in two stages-pre-vaccine and post-vaccine. It is
clear that for the near-term, we will need to keep managing the
risk of COVID-19, and the pandemic will continue to affect our
lifestyles-and, in turn, transportation. Travel modes that have
passengers in close proximity for extended periods of time have
been the most impacted, and will have the hardest recovery. Workfrom-home (WFH), single occupant vehicle travel, and biking/walking will remain favored.
Are these short-term shifts, or will we see lasting changes? Does COVID-19 present an
opportunity for us to rethink the allocation of space to these various modes? What can we
do to ensure that everyone can travel safely?
COVID-19 has forced many organizations with limited experience and tepid support
for WFH to jump in with both feet. Previously reluctant CEOs now profess full support for
WFH. Are these statements made purely out of necessity, or will we see lasting changes?
The answer could have a significant impact on our cities and transportation systems. It
is estimated that 30 percent of all workers have jobs that allow them to work from home,
at least some of the time. Will a significant number of businesses conclude that it is more
cost efficient to reduce the amount of office space they lease? For prospective employees,
will WFH flexibility be a differentiator?
While some are quick to suggest that these changes are fleeting, and forecast that in
a couple of years we will have gone right back to pre-COVID-19 conditions, I am not
so sure. Though we need to be careful in making snap judgements, this feels different.
Employees (myself included) who have gotten an extended taste of a work life free from
commuting will not be anxious to rush back to the office. I am not suggesting we will
all be happy working from our home offices and "Zoom"ing all day long. We are social
creatures, and I miss the opportunities to spontaneously brainstorm with colleagues
or have casual conversation in the hallway. And I look forward to the day when we can
safely gather again at ITE meetings. There is no virtual replacement for the learning and
relationship building that takes place outside of formal meeting rooms.
However, we may see a lasting shift in the percentage of work done at home. This
could have significant implications on central city office occupancy rates; the viability of
supporting restaurants, shops, and other businesses; and the number of people traveling
in and out of the central city.
Our goal is to bring you the latest information and facilitate discussions on these topics.
I hope you have tuned into the great dialogues that have been taking place on the ITE
e-Community. At the upcoming virtual ITE Annual Meeting and Exhibit, COVID-19 impacts
and implications will be woven throughout our program, beginning with our Opening
Plenary session. Gary Golden, a noted futurist, will forecast potential post-COVID-19
scenarios and examine their implications on transportation and on the workplace. Leaders
from across our profession will be discussing different aspects of our recovery and how it
could impact our communities, profession, and jobs for years to come. I hope you will join
us. As always, you can reach me at jpaniati@ite.org or on Twitter: @JPaniatiITE.

Jeffrey F. Paniati, P.E. (F)
Executive Director and Chief Executive Officer
6

J u l y 2020

i te j o urnal

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Pam Goodell

Marketing Senior Director

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ITE STAFF
Jeffrey F. Paniati, P.E. (F)

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Eunice Chege Thoya

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Transportation Technology Senior Director

Volume 90  |  Issue 7
ITE Journal (ISSN 0162-8178) is written by and for transportation engineers,
transportation planners, and others responsible for the safe and efficient
movement of people and goods on our surface transportation system. Published
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ITE Journal - July 2020

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of ITE Journal - July 2020

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