Improving the Cost Effectiveness of Financial Incentives in Managing Travel Demand Management (TDM)

(Center Identification Number: 77947)77950

Providing financial incentives to commuters to use alternative modes is a common element of managing transportation demand. Although these incentives have become common during the past two decades as elements of transportation demand management (TDM) programs, limited effort has been made to understand how different ways of providing financial incentives affect commuter mode choice. A better understanding of how these components of incentives affect their impact is critical to enhancing the performance of financial incentives as a TDM strategy.
A Web survey was developed and conducted to investigate the feasibility and interest of shifting mode in Florida. A total of 1,031 responses were collected and analyzed. From the survey, researchers found that more than 80 percent of respondents in Florida indicated that they were neither carpooling nor taking public transit. Over 70 percent of the sampled commuters have not considered changing modes. Most respondents indicated that they need a car to reach multiple destinations. In general, respondents agreed that financial incentives can make both carpool and public transit more appealing to commuters, but some systematic improvements are also critical.
While mode shift away from driving alone is the primary purpose for most of the TDM incentive programs reviewed, there are other means for yielding the desired outcomes without shifting mode. One method is to shift the focus on the time of the trip or the quantity of the trip consumed (i.e., vehicle miles of travel (VMT)). Researchers focused the evaluation on the feasibility of reducing individual VMT rather than changing mode as a means of achieving the outcomes of reduced congestion and emissions. A pilot test was conducted and proved that a VMT saving approach is very effective and has great potential to grow to achieve several of the desired outcomes of TDM. Two different incentive schemes in the pilot test produced valuable insights to expand the approach to statewide TDM programs.

Download the final report. For more information, contact Chanyoung Lee at, Phil Winters at, Joan Pino at, or Debbie Schultz at

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