Revise North America's Time Zones?

While most Americans are moaning over the loss of an hour's sleep due to the start of Daylight Saving Time this weekend, a new proposal to change the country's time zones could alter how we all look at the clock – especially on the West Coast.

Retired biologist Ray Demarchi has created a Web site proposing the elimination of one time zone in North America by merging the Pacific and Mountain time zones into one new Western time zone.

The proposed change would put states on the West Coast only two hours behind the East Coast instead of three, which Demarchi believes could boost business productivity by increasing the amount of time workers are in their office at the same time across the country.

"It would definitely be more efficient to have more offices working in synchronized time so that people are coming and going to work and from work at the same time," says Demarchi, who lives in British Columbia in the Pacific time zone.

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Demarchi thinks the current system is an inefficient relic of the past, created based on the railroad system in the 1800s. He argues that modernizing the system could have numerous benefits, from reducing flight times and the impact of jetlag from cross-country trips, to allowing better coordination of television schedules for live events like sports and political speeches.

"It would increase the efficiency in being able to communicate in real time with everything from the stock market to safety issues to air travel to television programming," Demarchi says.

Besides the potential productivity benefits, eliminating a time zone would also be like extending Daylight Saving Time all year for the West Coast, shifting an hour of sunlight to the end of each day due to later sunrises.

Demarchi came up with the idea of restructuring the country's time zones while on a drive from Auburn, Ala. to El Paso, Texas – a two-and-a-half day trip that changed time zones only after 1,300 miles. "Why do we have some time zones that are 1,300 miles across and some that are only 500 miles?" Demarchi asks "It is a bit of a hodgepodge."

Caught in the hodgepodge are workers on the West Coast like Steve Kazak, vice president of sales at San Francisco-based financial services firm Stone and Youngerg, who has been getting up at 3:30 a.m. each morning for 30 years so he can work at a New York pace – on New York time.

Two dozen of the companies employees based in an office in San Francisco's historic Ferry Building arrive at the office before dawn each day, beginning work after 5 a.m. so they can match up with their East Coast counterparts in the financial industry.

"You have to be on the phone at the same time that your traders in New York or your customers on the East Coast are," Kazak says. "You can't show up at 9 o'clock in the morning in San Francisco; it's noon back in New York and they're already at lunch. So, from that standpoint, this is a necessity, we have to be working the same hours."

But some early risers are skeptical that Demarchi's time zone proposal would make for much of a change. "Doesn't make a difference whether I get up at three or four," says Stone and Youngerg employee Paula Brown Caplice. "They're both the middle of the night."

Kazak says he's gotten used to waking up early, and jokes that he doesn't feel any physical toll from the altered schedule. "Statistics say I should be dead right now. From a physical standpoint, it really hasn't had any impact."

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