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Would you commute during off-hours for a chance to win cash?

Categories: World

hi-toronto-traffic-cp44-480.jpgWould you travel to and from work half an hour early if it earned you a chance to win cash? (Canadian Press)

A Stanford University professor is trying out a new tactic to decrease gridlock during peak traffic hours: offering commuters a chance to win cash by travelling off peak hours.

Professor Balaji Prabhakar launched Capri, short for Congestion and Parking Relief Incentives, in an effort to reduce commuter gridlock to and from the campus.

According to the New York Times, regular commuters to the campus would earn credits for driving to and from work outside of peak hours, which are  8-9 a.m. and 5-6 p.m., respectively.

Drivers would earn credits for each off-peak trip, which could then be exchanged for either a 10-cent reward or an entry into a lottery to win between $2 and $50 US. As an added perk, participants can name one day a week as a 'boost day', earning triple the regular credits for each off-peak trip.

The system, devised by Prabhakar and his students, has been adopted by Singapore as well. According to National Geographic, participants earn credits for each kilometre travelled during off-peak hours by rail. The boost day mechanic earns commuters five credits for each kilometre travelled one day per week.

The project in Singapore offers participants a choice between a discount on their transit fees, or a lottery to win prizes of $50 or $100 US. The New York Times reports that participants "overwhelmingly chose the lottery."

The gamification element of Prabhakar's projects has so far yielded promising results.

Over 17,500 people have enrolled in the Singapore project, and of those people 11 to 12 per cent have shifted to off-peak hours. And in Stanford, the project has become successful enough that an expanded treatment will soon include parking spaces.

Prabhakar believes the incentive to win prizes can help reduce traffic congestion better than other methods, such as London's congestion charge, which places a fee on those who drive downtown during peak hours.

"It takes many people to create congestion," Prabhakar told National Geographic, "but surprisingly few to get rid of it."

Would you drive to and from work on off hours for the chance to win cash prizes? Would you be more or less likely to change your commuting habits with small rewards, or the chance to win bigger ones? Take our poll and share your thoughts in the comments section below.

(This survey is not scientific. Results are based on readers' responses.)

Tags: POV, World

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