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'BART Perks' program persuades some commuters to change travel times

A program offering cash incentives to BART riders who commuted outside of the busiest hours successfully persuaded some riders to change their travel behavior, transit agency officials said Wednesday.

"BART Perks," a pilot program offered by BART and the San Francisco County Transportation Authority, signed up almost 18,000 riders during its six-month run from late August to the end of February, well over the 10,000 participants organizers had hoped for.

During that time, an average of 250 participants shifted their rides to either before or after the peak morning commute hours. Around 2,600 participants had traveled in the peak hours before the program, meaning about 10% of them changed their behavior during the program, BART officials said.

The program, thought to be the first of its kind in North America, was modeled after successful international programs used in places such as Singapore.

The program paid out an average of $35,000 a month to all participants and about $210,000 over the entire six months. Participants earned an average of nearly $3 per month, with about 10 each month earning $100 or more through an additional "Spin to Win" game.

"BART's cars may be the oldest in the country, but in many areas BART is at the cutting edge," BART board member Nick Josefowitz said in a statement. "This program shows the benefits we can deliver to our riders and to the region by strategically deploying new technology."

The program's results are now being evaluated. BART officials said a future incentives program would need to find ways to better target those who are frequent riders during peak commute hours.

– Bay City News Service

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