It’s frustrating to be on a packed train heading into the city during morning rush hour and see empty trains headed in the opposite direction. Well, BART has come up with an amazing TDM pilot that, with the results in, shows people will shift their commutes outside of the busiest times if they’re rewarded for helping spread rides out throughout the system as a whole. The early results of “BART Perks” in San Francisco offers the proof.
The Perks program incentivized riders to shift travel times away from the peak morning hour of 7:30 a.m. to 8:30 a.m. to reduce crowding. During the six-month trial period, an average of 250 Perks participants shifted their ride either before or after the peak morning rush hour each weekday. That amounts to the equivalent of two full BART cars being freed up each weekday during BART’s busiest hour. About 2,600 Perks participants traveled during the peak hour each day before the program, meaning about 10% of these riders targeted by the program did in fact shift.
The first program of its kind in North America, Perks was modeled after successful international transit rewards programs, and showed comparable results to a similar program deployed in Singapore.
Perks’ incentive model is based on the economic theory of nudging, wherein even a small reward can lead to adjustments in behavior. Each month Perks awarded an average of $35,000 to all program participants, and roughly $210,000 was awarded over the life of the program. On average, participants earned close to $3/month, with about 10 different participants per month being paid $100 or more based on their participation in the “Spin to Win” game. Each month, rewards were transferred to participants’ PayPal accounts.