ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – The work-from-home trend is gaining momentum in Bernalillo County and it has changed the area’s traffic patterns according to the Mid-Region Metropolitan Planning Organization. The organization takes data from thousands of locations around the county but when COVID-19 hit, Senior Transportation Planner Nathan Masek wanted to change the focus of the data collection.

“I thought, ‘Hey, I’ve got this monitoring program. I’m going to have to shift things around a bit to capture the reduction in traffic,'” said Masek.

He prioritized a subset of only 150 locations to see what was changing. Masek said right off the bat, traffic counts dropped steeply when the pandemic due to stay-at-home orders.

“High employment areas and activity centers had drastically different shifts in traffic from, say, residential areas,” said Masek.

Now, with pandemic restrictions lifted and life back to normal, Masek said he wanted to see if the work-from-home trend was still affecting traffic.

“From 2011 through 2019 the work-at-home percentage was about five percent, but in 2020, it jumped to over 16 percent, and that’s for the entire county of Bernalillo,” said Masek. He continued, “[In] 2021, which is the latest data that we have, it rose a little bit more, upwards of 18 percent. 2022 data will be coming in the coming month here, and we’ll see if that trend is here to stay,” said Masek.

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Fewer commuters on the road could mean a number of things.

“So, when we have a reduction in volumes that affects impacts on the transportation system, wear and tear, as well as congestion,” said Masek.

According to officials, the number of annual vehicle miles driven by people in Bernalillo County is still 10% lower than pre-pandemic levels.