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Saving high on CO2 emission by lessening the traffic load on highways during peak hours by increasing it during non peak hours.



The proposal that I am going to make is quite a small proposal (as small as car pooling) but I believe the proposal is very potent especially for developing countries where centers of business and commerce are localised, metro cities are increasingly becoming burdened with population growth (mostly by migration) and traffic jams are everyday scenes.

Road/Freeway infrastructure in metro cities of India is not catching up with the pace of automobile sales in metro cities. I will start with an example. I live in New Delhi and I commute daily to my office in Gurgaon in the morning and return in the evening. I drive alone. There are thousands of people like me who do the same thing every day. There is a freeway almost 20km long (from the place where i join it) that connects the two cities. The incoming traffic is high in the morning and outgoing traffic in the evening. 

We can all agree that there is a traffic density limit to all freeways. Lets define it as the maximum density when people can move around easily at a speed of 60~80km/h with no idle time and no repeated acceleration and braking events. When this limit is crossed, we encounter jams and many times jams have a cascading effect further worsening the situation.This limit is usually crossed at times what we call the peak hours. They are mostly 8~10 AM and 6~8 PM in the day when most people commute to their workplace and homes. Peak hours are the biggest contributor of CO2 from automobiles during the day. The reason for this is simple: Numerous events of Engine Idling, Acceleration, Braking, Low gear driving. To mitigate this situation, we can optimise the traffic density by adjusting the work timings. For ex. 6~11 AM and 4~10 PM. And believe me, its quite possible if the companies become flexible enough for such a change. For commuters this would be a small behavioral change and can be easily adopted, given the advantages are informed to the commuters.

A diagram of traffic density as function of time is shown.

Category of the action

Building efficiency: Physical Action

What actions do you propose?

In order to put this proposal into action, we need to go by the following steps:

1) Highlight the significant amount of CO2 (also NOx, PM, CO, THC) reduction that can be realised with the said proposal to the Government officials, to the citizens whose behavior (read daily commute) is causing so much emissions everyday and to the companies where these citizens are employed.

2) Highlight the gain in productivity, efficiency & money(spent on fuel) of  government/public/companies that can be realised after implementation of this proposal.

3) Now, creating a plan of --- how to set the work timings for the employees, how to monitor if the companies are really trying to implement this change , & how to monitor the progress.

After having achieved 1) and 2)  and the consensus, we should start with the following steps.

a) Creating a database of all employees working in various companies in a metro. This would include key characteristics such as what kind of vehicle the person drives(gasoline, diesel or cng fueled), how many kms the person covers while commuting, which route the person takes to reach the company, what is his work timing etc.

b) Using that database, the government organisation or any outsourced organisation may calculate the Carbon footprints for all companies. According some kind of solution should be agreed upon by all the companies and the government that would indicate the staggered shift timings of all employees of all companies.

c) A plan should be made on how to monitor if the companies are really following what has been agreed upon.

--- This could be done by putting a RFID or any other tag in all the vehicles of the employees of all companies in a metro and then monitoring the entry exit of vehicles through the freeway toll barrier.


Ofcourse, the government needs to incentivize commensurately to the companies for bringing such a change. 

Who will take these actions?

Key actors would be Government officials from the ministry of transport, Executives of the HRD of various companies, employees of the companies themselves (the biggest action takers) and IT department offcials of the Traffic police.

Where will these actions be taken?

Developing countries-- India , it should be. I believe the situation is omnipresent so maybe EU and US also.

How much will emissions be reduced or sequestered vs. business as usual levels?

I have tried this (coming in different work timings) myself and found this result. My daily commute is (30 +30 km), most of it is highway. I drive a 1.3L turbocharged CRDi  diesel vehicle. 

Work timings-- 08:00--16:45 

Time taken to reach office and back --- 80 minutes

Fuel efficiency -- 20km/l or 130g/km CO2

Work Timings --- 10:00--18:45 (max peak hour)

Total time to and fro --160 minutes

Fuel Efficiency-- 15 km/l or 165 g/km CO2

This is by driving normally as in economy mode. meaning-- cruising, smooth acceleration and deceleration. The extra CO2 in the late shift is mostly due to significantly higher idling time in traffic jams (bumper to bumper driving).

I will save $ 300 per year in fuel bills, 400 hours per year, and 630 kg of CO2 every year. This is considering I drive a diesel vehicle which is more fuel-efficient than a similar sized petrol engine.

And we have thousands of Vehicles running everyday morning and evening on the same route with just one person sitting inside the vehicle.




What are other key benefits?

 1) For the environment

a) Lesser CO2 and other emissions

2) For the society

a) Reduced stress levels for the people.

b) Better air to breathe (New Delhi has the most polluted air in the world)

c) Reduced stress on public transport/ infrastructure ----> lesser breakdowns--> lesser maintenance costs 

What are the proposal’s costs?

Negative effects-- 

a) I dont see any major negative effects for the employees if they are working for the same amount of time everyday . 

b) Companies who work for overseas clients may be hesitant to adopt this change if it effects business hours.

c) In general companies everywhere dont have a problem with people coming early but most of them (read bosses) have a problem with people leaving early.

The staggered work timing model is sustainable only if the employees who come early leave early --> the work timing should be followed not only in the morning but in the evening hours too.

Time line

Making the database and putting a tag on every vehicle should not  take more than 6 months. Putting the plan into action -- a maximum of one year.

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