The biggest economic impact will be on international commerce, such as air, train and truck transport, where business depends on synchronizing schedules, which are coordinated far in advance, says Michael Downing, a professor at Tufts University and author of “Spring Forward: The Annual Madness of Daylight Saving Time.”
“Clock time is only useful for two reasons: predictability and synchronization. Otherwise it’s a pointless invention,” he explained. “These petty annoyances can add up to hundreds of million of dollars in rescheduling. And that burden falls to the companies in America who have to absorb the costs.”
This affects companies like FedEx and UPS and the airline companies. The Air Transport Association, which represents major U.S. airlines, said carriers have had to absorb additional administrative costs to get their flight schedules in sync with Europe. The airlines had lobbied against the DST extension in Congress, saying it would cost the industry at least $75 million in potential lost revenue.
But some questioned the significance of that impact.
“A snowstorm has a bigger impact on rescheduling than this,” said Ray Neidl, an airline analyst for Calyon Securities. “This may create a few challenging problems for schedulers, but as far as being a problem for the industry, in a list of one to five, this is number eight.”
While DST is expected to cause some headaches, most welcome the concept of more “usable” daylight. Passed by Congress in 2005 in an effort to curb energy use, the extended DST shifts an hour of daylight from the morning to the evening for four more weeks each year. Congress hopes this will encourage consumers to use less electricity and reap estimated savings of 100,000 barrels of oil a day in March and April.
“This is a major lifestyle effect and most people like it,” said David Prerau, author of “Seize the Daylight: The Curious and Contentious Story of Daylight Saving Time.” “The positives outweigh the negatives and if it brings along some small energy savings, then it’s even better.”