ConnectSmart MaaS Program Leverages Behavioral Economics to Encourage the Use of Alternative Mobility Options

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ConnectSmart Presentation

Presentation on the Behavior Aspect of Houston ConnectSmart

Mobility-as-a-Service & Tool (MaaS&T) in Houston

In an effort to optimize available transportation capacity while managing demand variabilities, the Texas Department of Transportation’s Houston District (TxDOT HOU) will deploy ConnectSmart, an innovative solution. ConnectSmart is an advanced technology framework with a built-in mobile app that will help integrate Transportation Systems Management and Operations (TSMO) and Active Demand Management (ADM). ConnectSmart’s app will encourage the use of alternative mobility options by providing users with available multimodal travel choices, predictive travel times, travel costs, and system updates while leveraging behavioral economics. ConnectSmart was awarded a Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) Advanced Transportation and Congestion Management Technologies Deployment (ATCMTD) grant.

Fundamental to ConnectSmart is the deployment of a Mobility-as-a-Service (MaaS) ecosystem to provide travelers with a convenient and integrated multimodal trip planning and payment app. It transcends the traditional MaaS concept by introducing a behavior engine that actively engages travelers with available mobility options to reduce congestion. While individual behavior change is significant, the aggregate effect on the system operations (i.e., congestion) is critical. As such, ConnectSmart extends the MaaS concept by incorporating system performance and introduces Mobility-as-a-Service & Tool (MaaS&T).

Yi-Chang Chiu, PhD, Founder and President of Metropia Inc., supported by Brenda Bustillos, PhD, PE, TxDOT’s ConnectSmart Deputy Program Manager, gave a presentation on the behavior aspect of ConnectSmart at the NOCoE/ITSA TSMO/MOD Virtual Peer Exchange on February 19th, 2021. Figure 1 below illustrates that behavior change is jointly determined by ability and motivation and higher levels of motivation are required as a task becomes more difficult to accomplish. ConnectSmart will synergistically utilize behavior (both monetary and non-monetary incentives) and mobility strategies to nudge users who fall below but near the Action Taken line to achieve much higher program outcomes compared to traditional approaches.

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Figure 1: Behavior Strategies and Mobility Technologies

For more information on TxDOT’s ConnectSmart and other ongoing projects please contact

Vassilis Papayannoulis, PhD at vassilis.papayannoulis@metropia.com