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Survey: More metro Atlanta residents working from home

Survey: More metro Atlanta residents working from home

Survey: More metro Atlanta residents working from home
A new survey shows three out of every four commuting trips in metro Atlanta are completed by driving alone. But hundreds of thousands of people are scrapping their commute at least once a week in favor of working from home.

Survey: More metro Atlanta residents working from home

Fed up with metro Atlanta traffic, hundreds of thousands of residents are scrapping their commute to work at home at least sometimes, a new survey shows.

Some 41% of metro commuters “telework” at least occasionally — nearly double the share who said they did in 2007 — the survey found. And most of those who don’t said they’d be willing to work from home if their employer had a formal telework program.

That’s one of the takeaways from the Atlanta Regional Commission’s new survey of commuters in 19 metro counties. The survey also found nearly everyone believes traffic congestion is a serious regional problem. And many respondents said their commute is getting worse.

The survey is used by the Georgia Commute Options program, which encourages people to break the habit of driving alone to work. Market Director Jill Goldberg said the growing popularity of working at home is a promising development.

“If you can get somebody off the road one day a week or more, that greatly impacts the way a commute works for everyone else who doesn’t have a chance to telework,” Goldberg said. “Even taking a few hundred cars off the road makes a dramatic difference.”

The results of the Georgia Commute Options 2019 Regional Commuter Survey will be unveiled Thursday at an ARC meeting. The survey of some 5,100 people was conducted in 2018 and 2019.

Anyone who drives in metro Atlanta can tell you traffic is awful. But the ARC’s commuter survey — conducted every three to four years — puts some numbers to our collective misery. Among its findings:

  • Respondents reported an average travel time to work of 40 minutes. About 3 in 10 respondents traveled more than 45 minutes to work.
  • Driving alone accounts for three out of four commuting trips. A host of alternative options — transit, carpooling, vanpooling, biking, walking and on-demand services such as Uber and Lyft — accounted for just 13% of trips. The remaining 11% of trips were saved through telework.
  • Ninety-eight percent of commuters said traffic congestion is a serious issue. One-third of respondents said their commute was more difficult than a year ago.
  • Two in three commuters said the length or ease of their commute was a factor in decisions about where they worked or lived.

The growth of telework was one of the more striking findings. Based on the survey, the ARC estimates more than 650,000 people in the region work from home at least one day a week. That’s hundreds of thousands of vehicles that aren’t on the road.

Edwardo Hebbert commutes from Duluth to a state government job in downtown Atlanta four days a week. It can take an hour and a half one way if he leaves after 7:30 a.m.

But on Tuesdays Hebbert works at home.

“It’s a beautiful day,” he said. “I actually get more work done. I can log in earlier and I’m a little more productive because I don’t have to worry about, `Oh, it’s 5 o’clock. I have to go before traffic becomes a nightmare.’ ”

There are plenty more people who don’t telework but would like to. Based on the survey results, the ARC estimates there are nearly 300,000 metro residents who could work from home at least one day a week and are interested. Many just need a nudge — such as a formal telework program offered by their employer.

“People have a comfort level when they know what the rules are,” Goldberg said.

The survey also found challenges and opportunities when it comes to encouraging commuters to use public transportation.

Sixty percent of nontransit users who had access to public transportation and could use it said it would take too long. Others cited incompatible transit schedules, the distance from transit to home or work and — for 8% of nontransit users — cost.

Only 9% of respondents used a bus or train to get to work at least one day a week. But another 9% said they could use it at least once a week. And an additional 5% said they could use it occasionally.

Such “transit-potential respondents” represent nearly 350,000 commuters across the region, the survey found.

Goldberg said her organization seeks to help them make the transition by explaining how transit works and even mapping their routes for them.

“They haven’t tried it. They’re not sure of their route,” she said. “They’re afraid it might make (their commute) longer.”

Survey highlights

Highlights from the Atlanta Regional Commission’s 2019 Regional Commuter Survey:

  • 76% of commuting trips are completed by driving alone.
  • The average commute time to work is 40 minutes.
  • One in three commuters said their trip to work was more difficult than last year.
  • 41% of commuters teleworked at least occasionally.
  • 14% of commuters who drive alone said they would be able to use transit to get to work occasionally.

SOURCE: Atlanta Regional Commission

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  • A metro Atlanta man said a twin-engine jet he was flying was having problems with its autopilot shortly before it crashed and killed four people earlier this month in northwest Georgia, according to a preliminary incident report released Wednesday by the National Transportation Safety Board. The Cessna Citation disappeared from radar Feb. 8 hours before its remnants were found in a remote part of Gordon County.  The pilot, Roy Smith, 68, of Fayetteville, his son, 25-year-old Morgen Smith of Atlanta, the son’s girlfriend, 23-year-old Savannah Sims of Atlanta, and 63-year-old Raymond Sluk of Senoia were found among the wreckage, according to Gordon County Deputy Coroner Christy Nicholson.  According to Heidi Kemner, an air safety investigator for the NTSB, the jet departed from Atlanta Regional Airport-Falcon Field in Peachtree City about 9:45 a.m. and was headed for Nashville, Tennessee. It was snowing at the time, but it’s unclear if the weather was a factor in the crash.  The report revealed the plane was having issues maintaining its altitude and direction before it disappeared from radar.  An air traffic controller told the pilot to return to the height and direction they were supposed to be traveling, and the pilot said he was having problems with the autopilot. The controller asked if everything was under control, and the pilot said they were “OK now,” the report said.  RELATED: 4 dead in Gordon County plane crash The technological problems persisted and the plane once again strayed from its elevation and direction.  The air traffic controller again asked if everything was all right, and the pilot said they were “‘playing with the autopilot’ because they were having trouble with it,” the report said.  The controller suggested turning the autopilot off and hand-flying the plane, according to the report. The pilot rose to a higher altitude, but according to the report he was never able to get out of the clouds.  The pilot later told a second air traffic controller that they were having instrumental issues on the left side of the plane and were working from instruments on the right side.  RELATED: Metro Atlanta father, son among 4 victims of Gordon County plane crash The plane rose farther and started to make a left turn, when air traffic control suddenly lost contact with it. The controller tried to reach the plane “numerous times” but did not get a response, the report said.  The area in which the plane was found was so hilly that it was accessible only by foot, Gordon County Chief Deputy Robert Paris told AJC.com. “The plane was discovered in one of the most remote areas of our jurisdiction,” Paris said, calling the crash site terrain treacherous. “We had to go in in four-wheel drive vehicles and ATVs and we had to walk a long way after that. It’s only accessible by foot.”  The left wing was still attached to the body of the plane, but part of the right wing had been torn off, according to the NTSB report.  “Several sections of wing skin” were found along the path of debris, the report said.  It took more than 24 hours to locate all of the victims, AJC.com previously reported.  The NTSB has not released a conclusive cause of the crash. In other news: 
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  • For more than 15 years, Dandre Shabazz got away with a string of violent assaults against women, according to prosecutors. But the evidence linking him to the crimes had been there all along. On Wednesday, the 56-year-old Shabazz was convicted, the Fulton County District Attorney’s Office said. It was the second conviction in five days in Fulton County that involved a lack of previous rape kit testing.  From January 2002 until March 2005, Shabazz attacked a dozen women in Fulton County. And those victims underwent sexual assault examinations at Grady Memorial Hospital. Then, those assault kits — containing Shabazz’s DNA — sat untouched for more than a decade.  That changed following a 2015 AJC investigation that revealed more than 1,300 rape kits were at Grady and had never been turned over to investigators. The following year, a new Georgia law required that all of the untested kits be submitted to the GBI for testing.  RELATED: Nearly 13 years later, DNA leads to rape conviction ALSO: Grady releasing 1,000 rape kits withheld from law enforcement In April 2017, the GBI contacted the Fulton DA’s office. Shabazz’s DNA was found on one kit, and then 11 others, the DA’s office said.  “This man was a violent and ruthless serial rapist. Because rape kits were not tested in a timely manner, he was allowed, not only to continue to prey upon the women of our community, but he almost got away with his brutal crimes, scot-free,” Fulton County DA Paul Howard said in an emailed statement. “I am thankful to all of the people who worked so hard to get these rape kits tested. The criminal justice system should never allow rape kits to go untested again.” In June 2018, a Fulton County grand jury indicted Shabazz in the rapes. By then, he was behind bars in federal prison. In 2006, he was convicted of several armed robberies as part of the “Daybreak Bandits” who targeted restaurants in the early morning hours.  Shabazz’s trial began Feb. 18 in Fulton County. Prosecutors told the jury Shabazz targeted young women who were alone late at night and assaulted them at gunpoint. But he didn’t use a condom, which linked him to the crimes.  Shabazz was convicted of kidnapping, armed robbery, aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, aggravated sodomy and aggravated child molestation, the DA’s office said. His sentencing is scheduled for Tuesday. 
  • A Georgia Southern University student was arrested over the weekend on rape and aggravated assault charges after an incident that took place in an apartment complex near campus, authorities said. Paul Curtis Costley, 20, of Statesboro, was arrested after the victim reported the alleged incident early Saturday at the Cambridge at Southern: The Pines complex, Statesboro police said in a news release. The apartment complex advertises itself as a place “designed for students at Georgia Southern University,” according to its website. It is located across the street from campus. RELATED: Cops: Man dies after fight with security in apartment near GSU campus Georgia Southern police were initially called to the scene before they called Statesboro police to take over the investigation just before 3 a.m., the release said. The victim told authorities she knew Costley and that he sexually assaulted her. After a forensic examination of the victim was conducted, officers executed a search warrant at the student’s apartment, the report said. The information led to Costley’s arrest later Saturday, according to Bulloch County Jail records. Jennifer Wise, director of communication at Georgia Southern, told AJC.com that Costley is a current student, but she was not able to confirm whether the victim is also a student. RELATED: 3 teens accused of armed robbery, assault that nearly killed woman near KSU campus “This isn’t our case. It is being handled by the Statesboro Police Department, so I do not have information on the victim to be able to confirm whether or not they are a student,” she said in a statement. The apartment complex provided a statement on the incident that said, in part: “Our highest priority is the safety and security of our residents ... We will terminate the occupancy of any resident involved in criminal acts or otherwise threatening the safety of the community, and have taken appropriate action in this case.” AJC.com has reached out to the Bulloch County Sheriff’s Office and Statesboro police for more information. Costley’s booking photo was obtained by several local media outlets. This incident took place the day before a 20-year-old University of Georgia student reported that she was sexually assaulted near campus.  The report led to police obtaining rape and sexual battery warrants against 19-year-old Dionicio Guadarrama, who was still on the loose Wednesday afternoon. He is not a UGA student. MORE: 19-year-old wanted on rape charge, accused of sexually assaulting UGA student Anyone with information about the Georgia Southern case is asked to contact detectives at 912-764-9911. In other news:
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