The Ask Find a solution for a sustainability problem.
ECO POINTS SYSTEM
THE QUICK READ
How do we convince a declining pool of riders to take the dirty, crowded, unappealing option more frequently?
Being the environmentally friendly option is not a strong enough incentive when there are, quite simply, more enjoyable options.
Help commuters find value in public transportation beyond carbon emission-reduction and despite the hassle.
Carbon emissions are one the most discussed topics within sustainability. After two decades of discourse, carbon is still the largest threat to our planet, despite public knowledge of ways to combat it.
One of those ways, traveling by public transportation, has seen a decrease in ridership in the last few years.
According to a study done by The Washington Post, public transportation ridership has decreased nationwide. The reasons cited included near constant construction, unreliable systems, and – most importantly – more comfortable, convenient experiences with rideshares and personal vehicles.
WHERE WOULD WE START?
To get a better understanding of the consumer and to build the most efficient system, we had to focus on one metro area.
WE CHOSE WASHINGTON, D.C.
A large metropolitan area of over six million people and a national leader in environmental initiatives, with proof found in its status as the first LEED Platinum City in the world and its passing of the most aggressive climate change legislation in the country, the District provides the perfect environment for a pilot initiative.
MOST IMPORTANTLY: IT'S A HYBRID CITY
Most residents still use a car, despite a well-establish metro system. With recent updates, 68% majority of residents rated the Metrorail positively, up from 42% in 2017.
COMMUTER SEGMENTS IN D.C.
According to the same study by The Washington Post, D.C. travelers fall into four segments.
Early adopters of new services, such as e-scooters and ride-sharing apps.
DRIVERS WHO DABBLE
Frequent drivers who will occasionally use the Metro or other means of public transportation.
The city’s residents who travel less frequently in general.
Committed to their cars and only drive. They value the privacy cars afford.
HOW DO WE CHANGE THE BEHAVIOR OF 54% OF COMMUTERS?
WHAT ARE CURRENT METHODS OF PERSUASION?
NANNYING Restricting individual behaviors.
Such as cigarette taxes and driving bans.
Seen as an overstep by policymakers, therefore often used as a last resort.
NUDGING Providing information as encouragement.
Such as step counters and other fitness trackers.
Questionable efficacy. For example, there is no clear evidence that fitness trackers make people more active.
According to the American Journal of Preventative Medicine
INCENTIVIZING Using bribery to get desired behaviors.
Most often seen as loyalty programs within stores.
Incentivizing is proven to encourage behavior change without taking punitive measures, making it the method we'll use for our strategy.
Get travelers to chose the greener transportation options by providing an impactful incentive.
A tiered points-based system that encourages commuters to take public transit in exchange for discounts on metro fares.
When searching for routes, commuters will see levels of sustainable options and will receive corresponding points. Those points can be redeemed for free or discounted rides.
The Eco Points program gives the city an opportunity to further D.C.’s reputation as a leader in sustainability by putting it at the forefront in circular design for transportation. The Metro Authority can regain the trust in riders D.C. has lost due to construction, rise of vehicle ownership, and the popularity of car-based commuting.