Transportation incentives are programs local transportation and public transit authorities create to encourage people to choose alternatives to solo driving, like carpooling, vanpools, and public transit. Because driving alone is a default habit in many places, incentives are one important strategy to drive modeshift. Common examples include things like:
- Free public transportation on certain days
- Access to high-occupancy vehicle (HOV) lanes on highways or toll rebates
- Rewards programs
- Loyalty programs
- Parking cash-out
- Access to preferred parking or free electric vehicle charging
While transportation incentives generally have a beneficial impact, default strategies have some noteworthy limitations. First, they tend to reward people who are already using smart alternatives to solo driving instead of encouraging single-occupancy vehicle operators to change to another mode. They also stagnate by failing to engage participants over the long term while offering financial rewards that do not provide enough motivation. Typically, this results from budgetary limitations.
So, how can you make transportation incentives more appealing without driving up their costs? We have identified four effective strategies:
- Targeted campaigns: Data-driven insights offer a cost-effective way to determine who is already participating in the preferred behavior and what groups can be targeted for a behavior shift. Don’t go after those who are already using smart alternatives. Instead, save your resources for those who aren’t.
- Randomness: Build participants’ anticipation for rewards through randomness: use techniques like raffles and draws for major prizes to get people excited about taking part. Randomness also helps fight program stagnation by introducing an element of excitement and uncertainty.
- Normalization and framing: Create sustained marketing and public awareness campaigns that frame smart alternatives to solo driving as normal, popular, and increasing in popularity.
- Self-image: People are motivated not only by financial rewards, but also by their identity. For example, cycling enthusiasts can often be convinced to start biking to work fairly easily. Knowing the identity characteristics of your target audience can give program effectiveness a big boost.
Our experts can suggest many other techniques and strategies to help make your transportation incentives that much more appealing while keeping your budget under control. If you would like a free assessment of your existing programs, the entire RideAmigos team is here to help you get started.