Transit & Covid-19

whighlander

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I'm of a similar line of thinking. Looking at the fundamentals of economic activity, transportation system capacities, and case studies from not just Europe or Asia, but Anglo-America ... all else being equal, there's nothing pointing to transit ridership being permanently diminished by COVID-19. (I mean, unless you go full SEPTA and use this as your opportunity to try to bust unions, change your operations models, further delay necessary repairs, and put yourself on a path to cratering your regional rail system so that it takes nearly 12 years for ridership to recover...but that's another story.)

Street and highway capacity hasn't changed because of COVID-19 response. So, while predicting how long it will take for full economic recovery to happen, I just don't see a long-term trend away from the ridership status quo pre-COVID-19. In this region, there's only so much capacity to meet travel demand before transit relieves the pressure off the street and highway network.

For me, it's all about economic activity. So far the fundamentals of economic activity in the region haven't changed, rather, they've shifted in ways that appear to be temporary in the 5-, 10-, 20- year time horizon.
Ra8-- what is changing is the total dominance of development in the downtowns of the major metros versus the burbs
This seasaw flips from time to time -- and today its decidedly moving away from where it was 10 to 1 years ago

First the Work at Home has shown quite a few companies whose product is bits -- that they can do almost as much with a mostly work-at-home model as the everyone in a big open floor downtown

2nd the idea of more work at home has allowed for more work near home to be back in the discussion and since in Greater Boston most of the working population doesn't live in the core cities -- this means a lot of thought again about building in the inner burbs

Finally -- while this might be a transient -- the idea of high density workspaces is now in question -- again tending to either favor more floor per employee in new construction and/or fewer employees all of the time [more just go downtown for the meetings which can't easily be done remotely]

Of course if you are building robots or actually working in a lab with bio then the people still need to be on the site -- but maybe the site doesn't need to be all downtown?

We'll soon see as there is nearly 1M sq ft in Waltham near Rt-2 on Rt-128 either coming to market or in the immediate pipeline
 

ra84970

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Ra8-- what is changing is the total dominance of development in the downtowns of the major metros versus the burbs
This seasaw flips from time to time -- and today its decidedly moving away from where it was 10 to 1 years ago

First the Work at Home has shown quite a few companies whose product is bits -- that they can do almost as much with a mostly work-at-home model as the everyone in a big open floor downtown

2nd the idea of more work at home has allowed for more work near home to be back in the discussion and since in Greater Boston most of the working population doesn't live in the core cities -- this means a lot of thought again about building in the inner burbs

Finally -- while this might be a transient -- the idea of high density workspaces is now in question -- again tending to either favor more floor per employee in new construction and/or fewer employees all of the time [more just go downtown for the meetings which can't easily be done remotely]

Of course if you are building robots or actually working in a lab with bio then the people still need to be on the site -- but maybe the site doesn't need to be all downtown?

We'll soon see as there is nearly 1M sq ft in Waltham near Rt-2 on Rt-128 either coming to market or in the immediate pipeline
While it seems like we're going to be backing off the most excessive cases of high-density office layouts, the fundamentals of location decision-making do not seem to be changing for the vast majority of the workforce. Tech companies are continuing work-at-home through September or January. But considering more long-term work-at-home policies, I don't know if the landed gentry is going to accept their employers shedding the responsibility for office rent/mortgage and utilities without additional pay. Though, if the landed gentry is going to accept a bad deal, I suppose that's up to them. Clearly, biotech and medicine is going to have a tough time choosing to locate within arms reach of LMA or Kendall. Do we expect that the other professional services sectors are going to move in the direction of tech? I'm not so sure that they're ready for that level of change.
 

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