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Metropolitan Transportation Commission

Incentivizing Active and Shared Travel Pilot Program

The Metropolitan Transportation Commission’s (MTC) Climate Initiatives Program identified in Plan Bay Area 2050 (PBA 2050) invests in strategies that reduce the region’s greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by reducing vehicle miles traveled (VMT). One of the main goals is to reduce VMT through strategies that encourage travelers to use active and shared transportation options rather than driving alone, including walking, cycling, taking transit, and carsharing.


In the wake of COVID-19, the Bay Area’s local transportation system, long-established commuting habits have changed. MTC initiated a pilot to better understand how travel behaviors have changed and to also determine the best approaches to shift travel behavior from driving alone to using active and shared modes with appropriate incentives and messaging.


The pilot aimed to provide MTC with the tools needed to enhance transportation demand management, inform scaling the pilot to the region, and ultimately insights necessary to achieve the greenhouse gas emission reduction goals of PBA 2050.


Metropia was selected as the consultant to carry out this pilot which began in May 2021 and was completed in June 2023.


Approach

Shifting transportation behavior away from single-occupancy vehicles towards more sustainable travel methods is a complex process that requires understanding travelers' knowledge, priorities, and motivations, along with providing habitual drivers with active and shared transportation options that are attractive.


The pilot program specifically sought to understand the tradeoffs people face when deciding between traveling in single-occupancy vehicles (SOV) and sustainable mobility options (e.g., public transit and cycling), including shopping, medical/dental appointments, and going to the gym or work. Another goal was to uncover the factors that influence a traveler’s mode choice. This requires studying traveler's socio-demographics, temporal and spatial activity characteristics, and the transportation landscape conditions and constraints influencing the mobility option decision.


To accomplish these goals, the Pilot project offered an innovative and empirically proven implementation behavior framework that involved:

  1. Identifying a target population

  2. Uncovering barriers to positive behavior change

  3. Designing scalable and cost-effective behavioral interventions,

  4. Evaluating the interventions using randomized controlled trials, and

  5. Providing recommendations on how to scale the pilot program

The Pilot consisted of two behavioral experiments, in which participants were recruited to use Metropia’s GoEzy app to navigate around town and answer questions about their travel. Over the six month study, participants were also offered various monetary and non-monetary interventions as a means for engaging individuals in behavior change.

Shifting transportation behavior away from single-occupancy vehicles towards more sustainable travel methods

Accomplishment/Findings

The Pilot ended in the summer of 2023 and a final report has been submitted to MTC. Details about the study and its findings will be shared when MTC publicly releases the findings.


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