The impacts of an incentive-based intervention on peak period traffic: experience from the Netherlands

Kumar, Vivek M.S. in Engineering
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Incentive-based travel demand management strategies are gaining increasing attention as they are generally considered more acceptable by the traveling public and policymakers. There is limited evidence on the impacts of such schemes, and the complex behavioral traits that may affect how individuals respond to incentives aimed at shifting travel away from peak period driving. This study presents a detailed analysis and modeling effort aimed at understanding how incentives affect traveler choices using data collected from a reward-based scheme conducted in 2006 in The Netherlands. The incentive scheme analyzed in this study gave monetary reward or credits for smartphone thus nudging commuters to avoid peak period driving by alternative time of travel or mode choice. The mixed panel multinomial logit modeling approach adopted in this study is able to isolate the impacts of incentives on behavioral choices while accounting for variations in such impacts across socio-economic groups that may be due to unobserved individual preferences and constraints. The model also sheds light on the effects of behavioral inertia, where individuals are inclined to continue their past behavior even when it is no longer optimal. Finally, the study offers insights on the extent to which behavioral changes persist after the end of the incentive period. In general, it is found that incentives are effective in changing behavior and can overcome inertial effects; however, individuals largely revert to their original behavior when the rewards are eliminated, thus suggesting that incentives need to be provided for a sustained period to bring about lasting change.