Skip to content
Opinion
Brooke Sutherland

Why Revive the Commute When Gas Prices Are So High?

Employees have proved that many can work from home, and a lot of them prefer it. Pump sticker shock makes it a no-brainer to keep doing it.

Feeling the pinch.

Feeling the pinch.

Photographer: David Paul Morris/Bloomberg

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is fueling sticker shock at the pump for Americans and sharpening already uneasy feelings about the impact of inflation. Why then are we in such a hurry to end pandemic-era work-from-home policies and force employees to commute to offices again? 

“It’s time for Americans to get back to work and fill our great downtowns again,” President Joe Biden said during this month’s State of the Union address. “You can’t stay home in your pajamas all day,” New York City Mayor Eric Adams said in a recent speech aimed at encouraging local employers to bring workers back to the city’s still relatively empty offices. Both comments were well-intentioned: There is a cost in keeping wide swaths of the working population out of city skyscrapers — to local restaurants, to fare-funded mass transit systems and to broader perceptions of urban vitality and safety. Declining Covid case counts across the U.S. present an opportunity to reverse some of that pain.