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The Covid-19 Newsletter is Coming to a Close
For the last few months, Cross County Connection has run the COVID-19 newsletter series exploring how the pandemic impacted transportation in South Jersey as related to the economy, travel, working arrangements and street uses. There have certainly been some paradigm-shifting changes occurring in our region and beyond. Before we move on to a newsletter series exploring a new topic this spring – electric vehicles – we are closing out the COVID-19 transportation newsletter by looking back at the impacts the pandemic has had on our transportation systems and some lessons learned. We have certainly covered a lot over the last few months. 
Telework and
the Future of
the Workplace 

According to a Delaware
Valley Regional Planning Commission (DVRPC) survey 
conducted from April 14 – 22, 2020, up to 50% of respondents reported working from home during the pandemic. This caused dramatic short-term impacts on travel and air quality – daily vehicle miles traveled (VMT) decreased from 15.5 million to 2.7 million in Burlington, Camden, Gloucester, and Mercer counties between March 1 and March 21, 2020. While VMT has since gone up, it stayed consistently lower through spring 2020 than its pre-pandemic level. At the end of June, daily VMT was 9.4 million for the four counties. As the pandemic has continued, many companies decided a hybrid telework schedule will best fit the needs of their employees. In addition, a survey conducted by the Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research (SIEPR) in May 2020 found that 52% of respondents wanted a mixture of home and office work, with the median being two days of telework per week.  
If telework policies are formalized and kept in place, our region could see a significant decrease in VMT, which in turn can help improve air quality in South Jersey long-term. In addition, developing and implementing a work-from-home plan can ultimately save employers money while providing flexibility for employees and potentially increasing productivity.  
Public Transportation
During COVID-19
A June 2020 survey from NJ TRANSIT demonstrated that South Jersey bus riders continued to use public transit during the pandemic at higher rates when compared to the rest of the state. The findings revealed that these riders are more likely to be essential workers, have lower-incomes, and lack the option to work from home. During the COVID-19 pandemic, a higher number of South Jersey bus riders have remained dependent on public transit to reach key services and access their workplaces. 
The same is true for the ridership of the Community Shuttles that Cross County Connection is heavily involved with. A large number of essential workers on board may help explain why the shuttles experienced a higher degree of ridership retention during the pandemic than the larger carriers in the state, where more passengers may have the option to work from home. Additionally, ridership on the South Jersey Community Shuttles is rebounding at a higher rate than the larger carriers. 
It is imperative to understand the characteristics of the passengers whom the Community Shuttles serve and to plan a transportation future with them in mind. Moving forward, Cross County Connection is collaborating with state, regional, and local stakeholders to ensure the Community Shuttles’ long-term sustainability so that South Jersey residents can continue benefiting from these important transportation services. 
Reckless Driving and Pedestrian Safety 

COVID-19 has changed people’s travel habits. Many are driving less while walking, biking, and using trails more. Though fewer cars were on the road, fatalities in May and June 2020 were up compared to the same period in 2019. Through December 13, 2020, 566 traffic deaths occurred in the state. This number includes pedestrian and bicyclist deaths. For the same period in 2019, 523 traffic deaths were recorded. An increase of 23 deaths occurred between the same time periods in 2019 and 2020. This jump is caused in part by increased speeding seen throughout the state, including a driver traveling over 100 miles per hour on I-80. Individuals may have noticed speeding on local streets as well. Steps need to be taken to make a comfortable walking and biking environment for pedestrians even with fewer cars on the road. This could include a combination of infrastructure and non-infrastructure measures, such as partnering with Cross County Connection to conduct a Street Smart NJ campaign.  
The Impacts of Complete Streets
on Economic Development 

Complete Streets strategies - particularly outdoor dining and amenities such as closing streets and parking lots to expand space for pedestrians - increased during the pandemic. Rethinking and reallocating the spaces within our streets can have a significant impact on economic development in the region. A Voorhees Transportation Center study found that infrastructure supporting walking and biking added $497 million to the New Jersey economy in 2011. During the pandemic, strategies that supported walking and biking were used to help small businesses attract shoppers and diners. Now that New Jersey residents experienced streets with more space allocated to pedestrians, they may never want to go back. Businesses, residents, and local government officials are seeing positive changes and they may be here to stay.  
What’s to Come

Cross County Connection will soon be launching a new newsletter series covering advances and expansion of Electric Vehicle (EV) infrastructure and technology in New Jersey and beyond. During the first month of the new presidential administration, EVs have seen a renewed focus at all levels of government, with the federal and state governments announcing ambitious plans to ramp up the use of EVs.  Automakers are on-board as well, recognizing the shift in the market towards more interest in EVs. As an example, GM used Will Ferrell and the Superbowl to announce its commitment to offer 30 EVs by 2025.  
To help local municipalities and businesses explore EVs, Cross County Connection will be releasing the Electric Vehicle Primer. The primer will guide readers through best practices and strategies for implementing EV charging infrastructure in public locations, businesses, and multi-family homes. Keep posted for more EV-related content. Cross County Connection will be working with local governments and businesses to support new EV infrastructure, such as charging stations.

Ronda R. Urkowitz P.P., AICP
Executive Director
(856) 596-8228

Patrick C. Farley, AICP, PP
Program Director
(856) 596-8228 

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Cross County Connection's Mission: To improve the quality of
life in southern New Jersey through transportation solutions.
Cross County Connection is the designated Transportation Management Association (TMA) for the seven-county southern New Jersey region: Atlantic, Burlington, Camden, Cape May, Cumberland, Gloucester and Salem. Cross County Connection assists local governments, schools, businesses, social service organizations, residents and employees with mobility needs by fostering the implementation and use of sustainable transportation modes.
This Cross County Connection Transportation Management Association publication is funded by the North Jersey Transportation Planning Authority (NJTPA) and the U.S. Department of Transportation Federal Highway Administration. The U.S. Government and NJTPA assume no liability for the contents.