Matt Sanford
Economic Development Manager
City of Carlsbad 

I never thought I’d see ghost-town freeways during rush hour — especially in Southern California. Yet it’s just one of the many ways the pandemic redefined our daily lives.

As we now inch back into the work world, many experts are predicting that things will be fundamentally different, including how we commute.

That’s because many employers are embracing work-from-home policies, or some hybrid approach. And that means less gridlock, which is good for the environment.

Transportation, in fact, is our nation’s biggest source of greenhouse gas emissions. It accounts for 29 percent of all emissions in the US, according to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). And most of that is caused by vehicles on the road.

For employers, this post-pandemic era is a golden opportunity to rethink the role they play in shaping commuter patterns (and ultimately, the environmental impacts).

We understand this a lot for employers to consider. At the City of Carlsbad, we’re here to help. We’re working with Carlsbad employers as they navigate this new territory.

For starters, we recently launched Carlsbad Commuter, a free program that helps employers build a return-to-work strategy based on key workday factors, like scheduling, work locations, and commuting.

Our online resource also includes guides that outline the changing nature of work, along with ready-made tools and templates that address that. There’s also a facilitated idea exchange, and opportunities to connect with local experts in telework, commuting, and evolving workday schedules.

We’ve also launched the Carlsbad Commuter app, which helps commuters find more environmentally-friendly ways to get to and from work.

For example, users can discover free commuter programs, practical information and incentives to go car-free. There a plenty of perks for using the app, including:

  • Rewards for doing the right thing. Each sustainable trip tracked on the Carlsbad Commuter app offers a chance to win $250 in gift cards every month. Users just need to live in Carlsbad or be assigned to an employer in Carlsbad.
  • Tips and tricks to make your commute work for you. Access bike/e-bike training, special events, work-from-home digital care packages, updates on new mobility projects and more.
  • A one-stop-shop to discover the best and most sustainable trips. Users can find bike routes, transit trips, carpool partners, and vanpool seats.

While I don’t expect to see deserted freeways again any time soon, I do think our commuter patterns are evolving along with our work styles. In classic Carlsbad fashion, I have zero doubt our employers will be ahead of the curve. And we stand ready to help them blaze that path forward into our next normal.