Under a 'virtual local reality' scenario, where more workers shift from urban to rural areas due to remote working flexibility, public transport use could also fall by up to 25 percent and demand for energy, waste and water would slip by a single-digit percentage compared to pre-pandemic levels, the commission said in a report published May 13 into behaviour changes and infrastructure after COVID-19.
Concluding that it remained too early to assume transport use changes during the pandemic will play out in long-term behaviour shifts, the commission, which advises the UK Government on infrastructure issues, said commercial transport use had actually risen during the UK's lockdowns from pre-pandemic levels.
A continued shift to remote working and rural living will mean reduced commuting frequency but over longer distances, and raises the potential for increased car traffic in towns and suburbs, the commission concludes.
Transport may also be affected by a long-term aversion to crowded spaces, causing people to avoid air travel or switch from public transport to cars, it said.
"Behaviour change could make a significant difference to infrastructure demand for some sectors, but public surveys and initial responses as the UK edges out of COVID restrictions are not a reliable guide to shifts in mass behaviour over the longer term," the commission said.
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