Getting stuck in rush hour is never fun. Waiting for a chance to inch forward is not only hard on you but it is hard on the environment as fuel is still being used. Researchers in Bangalore and Singapore have studied the possibility of using a game to remove commuters from rush hour, and Stanford University is now running just such a game.
Congestion And Parking Relief Incentives, or Capri, is Stanford’s attempt to get people to come in during off-peak hours by giving them the opportunity to get a reward. The way our minds work with rewards is not always logical. If the program just gave a person ten cents every time they came in when before or after rush hour, no one would change their routine, but if you are entered to win a larger prize, suddenly there is interest. This raffle effect has been extensively studied in the past and is at the heart of Capri. Using a special ID tag on a car’s windshield, scanners can record every time a participant enters the campus during off-peak hours, and this equates to an entry in a raffle. The exact reward for the raffle is something the researchers are going to play around with, as they look for the optimal amount.
Capri is not just targeting rush hour though, as parking in less used areas is a way to enter. The idea is to shift traffic away from the most frequented parking areas, so people will spend less time driving around looking for an opening, or waiting for someone to leave.
Not everyone at Stanford can enter the Capri program though, as people who live on campus or are already required to come in on off-peak hours, would have an unfair advantage. That still leaves some 12,000 drivers eligible though, which could make quite a dent in the regions CO2 emissions, not to mention people’s wallets. Less gasoline used means less gasoline bought.