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BART says incentive program helped shift rider travel times

Bay Area Rapid Transit (CA) just completed a six-month test of its BART Perks program and concluded that incentives can influence rider travel behavior.

Riders could earn a nominal reward — averaging $3 per month — to shift their travel times away from the peak morning hour of 7:30 AM to 8:30 AM.   During the trial, an average of 250 participants changed their travel time, comprising about 10% of the program’s 2,600 participants.  While this freed up the equivalent of two full rail cars each weekday during the peak hour, BART acknowledges that the scale of the program was too small to result in “noticeable crowding reduction.”

Still, officials are enthusiastic about the program and its potential.  “Through BART Perks, we see that incentives can be used to shift behavior and create strong customer interest in rewards programs,” said Tilly Chang, executive director of the San Francisco County Transportation Authority, which partnered with BART on the program. “While a complete program analysis is still to come, we are encouraged by the program’s results to date, including the ability to manage peak demands while garnering overall rider satisfaction and employer support.” SFCTA and BART expect to complete a full evaluation this fall.

Photo credit: Susan Mara Bregman

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One Response to BART says incentive program helped shift rider travel times

  1. Kathryn Coffel March 15, 2017 at 4:08 pm #

    It will be interesting to see if this results in:
    1. Peak ridership down/Off-peak ridership up: indicates a shift to the off-peak; no net change in ridership, small loss of revenue for the Perks program.
    2. Peak ridership the same/Off-peak ridership the same: indicates off-peak riders moved to the peak in equal numbers of those shifting to the off-peak; no net change in ridership, small loss of revenue for the Perks program.
    3. Peak ridership up/Off-peak ridership up: indicates that new riders were attracted to replace those that shifted; increase in total daily ridership, increase in revenue more than offsetting the Perks program.
    Given the amount of movement in daily ridership, it could be a tricky thing to pin down. I look forward to seeing results of the full evaluation!

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