Traffic wasn’t nearly as bad as it could have been during Wednesday’s Metro shutdown. Telecommuters were a big reason why.  That’s fine for a one-time event, but it won’t work every day.

Photo by Elvert Barnes on Flickr.

We don’t know exactly how many people telecommuted during the Metro shutdown, but the number was surely gigantic. Anecdotal evidence suggests there could have been hundreds of thousands of normal commuters who simply didn’t travel into their offices.

Obviously when you remove tens or hundreds of thousands of commuters from the daily rush, that helps a lot with traffic.

But it’s one thing for so many people to telecommute all at once because of a freak one-time event. It would be quite another to see those levels of telecommuting over and over, work day after work day.

When it’s just one day, you can reschedule your meetings, live without your physical files, and put off working with specialized equipment. For just one day it’s easy to focus on email and other things you can do from home.

But at some point, office workers have to go in to their offices. As technology improves, the day-to-day telecommuting rate may well increase, but at least for now it’s not going to be possible for so many people to make telecommuting an everyday option.

Workers can avoid rush hour travel in large numbers for a freak event, but not everyday. If our city didn’t have Metro, the daily commute would rapidly become much worse than what happened on Wednesday.

Cross-posted at BeyondDC.