Congested Businesses

Traffic is getting so bad that chief executive officers are coming to regard congestion as an obstacle to doing business. The Silicon Valley Leadership Group released results last week from a December-January survey of 107 area CEOs on the regional business climate. Asked to pick the top five “business challenges” in Silicon Valley, high housing costs topped the list ââ?¬â?? just like last year ââ?¬â?? with 88 percent of the vote. Traffic shot to second place, up from ninth the year before.

Mike Langberg column here. SVLG survey here. Table 4 lists traffic congestion as the second biggest business challenge, ahead of perennial business headaches like regulations, health care costs, and taxes. Back to Langberg:

[M]ass transit is a poor alternative in the valley, where offices are spread across the landscape. Perhaps the best hope is the very thing Silicon Valley is good at: technology. High-speed Internet access and inexpensive computers are making it practical for more people to work at home, at least part of the time. Sun Microsystems is a leading example. Half the company’s 31,000 employees worldwide participate in a program called iWork. They work at home or at company-owned drop-in centers. Sun, based in Santa Clara, Calif., estimates it saves $69 million a year in the United States alone on real-estate costs. Sun says employees participating in iWork are happier and that they give 60 percent of their saved commute time back to the company.

For more on the business benefits of telecommuting, see p. 22 of my study, The Quiet Success: Telecommuting’s Impact on Transportation and Beyond.