Half a croissant, on a plate, with a sign in front of it saying '50c'
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An Incentive to Use Mass Transit

Pay people a bonus the more they use mass transit
  (+18, -4)(+18, -4)
(+18, -4)
  [vote for,

Let's face it...there's no end in sight to traffic congestion. I love the automobile as much as any red blooded american....I own various performance cars and all I want to do is blast down the highway.... But doing that in a daily situation is not only impractical...but it puts unwanted mileage on our priced possessions. What we really need is innovative, clever incentives to use mass transporation. Left to our own devices...this isn't going to happen. I personnally know friends that don't think anything about sitting in 2 hours of traffic each way to work. I know there's possibly 100 different ways to pull this off....and I would simply recommend an account that logs the amount of miles driven on buses, trains, whatever...which then translates into "frequent flyer miles", free lottery tickets...use your imagination. This would be a government sponsored program (state, local, whatever) which then appreciates the added volume of clients and then adds better services according to this demand. If there's one thing I've learned after 50 years on planet earth is that no one generally does anything on average unless there's an incentive involved.
Bob Wade, May 10 2002

Bar Bus http://www.halfbakery.com/idea/Bar_20Bus
I'm suprised no-one has linked to Stephee's idea yet [kaz, May 14 2002, last modified Oct 04 2004]

UK railcard http://www.railcard.co.uk/
[kinemojo, Sep 06 2005]

German Rail Card http://www.bahn.de/..._often_travel.shtml
Unlimited rail travel for a yearly flat fee. [kinemojo, Sep 06 2005]


       ‘free lottery tickets’ - there's a rip.

1. Reduce auto insurance rates.
2. Replace traffic penalty classes.
3. Restore mandatory school busing.
4. 100% of salary tax break if second part time job is more than 100 miles from full time job.
5. Corporate ‘peasant policies’ pay triple if covered employee dies on public transportation.
6. Every 100th rider receives a complementary _____ from a pTr sponsor.
reensure, May 10 2002

       Would these incentives also apply to other "alternative" forms of transportation, like when I ride my bicycle to work?
mwburden, May 10 2002

       I am currently working from home. How do I cash in on this? I'm not using any transportation at all. That's got to be even more beneficial than using mass transportation.
half, May 10 2002

       half the tax on home freelancers or cottage industries?
sappho, May 10 2002

       Teleworkers should get tax incentives and extra pay from thier employers. Not only do they reduce congestion but they also reduce the need for expensive office premises.
ferret, May 10 2002

       They tend to work in the class of industry collectively known as "irritating".
mcscotland, May 10 2002

       Yes, that's great....I can imagine the tax form....it asks you questions like how far do you commute to work....how much to you make....and you get a tax credit if you don't put 20,000 miles a year on our highways. State level would have the biggest incentive because of the variations in congestion....but with some federal backing.....anything's possible. Of course it's subject to all sorts of abuse...but you have to start somewhere.....you give back potentially a couple hundred dollars....not huge amounts.   

       But what I like most about these comments is the potential to further foster a modernization of the workforce to work more at home. If there's anything that doesn't make sense....that's the root problem.
Bob Wade, May 10 2002

       Hell, I don't want to work from home. I prefer getting out of the house, going somewhere, and the little bit of worthwhile social interaction I get at work.
waugsqueke, May 10 2002

       I had no idea that the software consulting business is considered to be irritating. I will admit though that I have known some consultants who were *quite* irritating and I have on rare occasion become irritated with a client. Now that I think about it, I must have been irritating to a client at least once or twice.
half, May 10 2002

       If one were to get an extra incentive for working at home, how much more could I get for staying home and watching TV all day? ...er...I mean for sacrificing the income from a job I want (I really do. Honest. And I could get that job, too - I don't care what you say about my lack of qualifications or my never having held a job for more than a week.) that's 60 miles from home?
beauxeault, May 10 2002

       It actually wasn't my choice to work from home. It was a requirement of the large corporation that I am currently working with. Normally I work on site.   

       Working from home has it's own built in set of benefits. Fewer miles driven = less fuel purchased and more billable hours available in my day.   

       I just didn't want to miss out on some "free" money if I could cash in on this idea.<g>
half, May 10 2002

       MCScotland!!! Teleworkers, not telemarketers!!Also known as Telecommuters! The future of the virtual workplace.......
ferret, May 10 2002

       I find it darkly amusing that "life on earth not being wiped out" isn't enough of an incentive for most people.
-alx, May 10 2002

ferret, May 10 2002

       There was a qroup of people who at one point would give cakes and biscuits to people using 'friendly' modes of transport, such as busses, bikes, and car-pool folk.
[ sctld ], May 10 2002

       How about mass transit that is useful for a change? Now that’s an incentive! If transit was on time, offered easy access to many locations and employment areas, did not demean its passengers with rude employees, was safe and comfortable, and had well maintained covered terminals and comfortable seats that the passengers respected and took care of, this would be an outstanding idea. So it won’t work in America. It would work in just about every other civilized country however.
em-tae, May 11 2002

       Most of the folks employed by my city's mass transit service are extremely courteous and helpful. For example, as I was boarding the bus a couple weeks ago, the driver informed me that were I to "stick my ass in the ocean" I would "catch all kinds of Goddamn fish." I'm pretty sure he was extrapolating that my posterior must be pierced if so many parts of the rest of my visible exterior are, but nonetheless I felt warm all over that he cared enough for my welfare that he took the time of out his hectic schedule to recommend a new and (sounds like) enjoyable hobby.
jester, May 11 2002

       I once got kicked off the trolley when I visited Sanfrancisco because I sat in a seat. The driver cursed me for not giving up my seat to a fifty something man even though I was never asked. I was saving the seat for my grandmother who forgot her credit card in the gift booth next to the stop.
em-tae, May 11 2002

       I travel by car to companies within 250 miles...it's often less time by car than by plane. There's a train from Jersey to Washington that takes about 2 1/2 hours...and any one that has taken it that I've talked to chooses it hands down over flying or driving.   

       They want to do the same thing up to Boston...   

       For long trips...yes....fly. But the new high speed trains should compete head to head with planes over distances of 500 to 1000 miles in terms of comfort and convenience.
Bob Wade, May 13 2002

       If they can stop the trains from crashing every three months... that seems to be a problem with Amtrak lately.
magnificat, May 13 2002

       I walked the seven miles to and from college daily for years because the bus I caught to arrive by my 10 a.m. class left at 7 a.m., so three hours regardless. I received a better education in weathercasting than many of my contemporaries in broadcast journalism majors.   

       Wait, this was about incentives to take the bus, wasn't it?
reensure, May 14 2002

       Two words: gas tax. A $5/gallon surcharge oughtta motivate people... ;^) Use the proceeds to fund mass transit projects so that using mass transit doesn't suck.
Jeremi, May 14 2002

       Oh gawd, not the Gas Tax fanatics again
thumbwax, May 14 2002

       Mass transit will always suck for some percentage of people who need to go to places mass transit doesn't.
bristolz, May 14 2002

       [reensure] Three hours to walk seven miles? Don't walk very fast?
mwburden, May 14 2002

       [Jeremi]: Trust me - gas tax won't work. The money raised is never spent on mass transport. It just drags the overall economy down. Mass transport works for people living in a big city, making the same journey every day. For everything else, it doesn't. I'm excluding flying here, as there isn't a real alternative for most people, so there is no decision to be made.
drew, May 14 2002

       The only gas tax we need is the one placed on politicians lips when they talk about gas taxes.
em-tae, May 15 2002

       There has to be realistic incentives.....not taxes. People push shopping carriages to a return bin, even if it's half way across the parking lot...to get back a quarter. The lottery ticket idea was not a joke. It has an apparent value in one's eye much higher than the buck to buy it. I'd like to see some statistic on how frequent flyer miles boost airline travel. Remember the guy who turned in all the pudding coupons and got something like 100M frequent flyer miles. You're not going to see that guy anywhere but on an airplane for the next 20 years. People won't think a second about throwing thousands of dollars of gasoline down the drain every year to commute in an automobile. That's money that is largely unaccounted for....not to mention the insurance and cost to maintain the vehicle...which works out to about 25 cents a mile here in the US.   

       Monorails can be elevated and built to pass right through extremely congested thoroughfares....and in doing so....the people sitting motionless in the cars get to see the trains pass by continually. This "hammer it home" technique is the kind of "incentive" that people need. This idea nearly passed on our New Jersey State Highway 80, but didn't make it due to shortsighted cost issues. I would have loved to go on that train from work to a ball game in New York in about 1/2 hour. Maybe that's another possible answer. Get the megabuck ball parks to consider building "metroservices" in and around the ball parks to strategically placed parking lots where people could commute perhaps 10 to 20 miles from the ballpark. The volume alone taken off the roads for these 50 to 75,000 attendee ball games would put a reasonable dent in a portion of the traffic congestion.
Bob Wade, May 15 2002

       Get the Disney Corporation to build, staff and run the things. That way they would be in the right place at the right time, and run by grinning people on happy pills (in the nicest possible sense).
drew, May 15 2002

       I heard a statistic recently that there are approximately 500,000,000,000 (yes, half a trillion) unclaimed air miles in circulation. Seems they're not *that* much of an incentive.
angel, May 16 2002

       Why all the fuss with irrelevant prizes that riders may or may not be interested in? How about just making public transportation free? Expensive, yes, but compare it to the cost of building new underground or elevated freeways, the other alternative in most congested cities to put in new lanes. I hate the bus, but even I would ride it occasionally if it didn't cost me anything out of pocket. And there's no extra paperwork required for anyone this way.
scottinmn, Oct 05 2002

       Baked. It's called a railcard
kinemojo, Sep 06 2005

       I used to work in Paris where my employer subsidised the cost of my Carte Orange to the extent that I didn't set foot in a car for an entire year. This was over twenty years ago. Donc, très bien cuit.
coprocephalous, Sep 06 2005

       Nice idea... I was thinking just making public transport very-very cheap or free should do it... But I like the carrot (and stick) approach too.
Dub, Sep 07 2005

       Public transport (or any other transport) cannot be made "very-very cheap or free"; the closest you can get is to make other people pay for it. If it still doesn't go from where I am to where I want to be, at the time that I want to travel, it still won't be an alternative to my own transport, so I still won't be using it, so I still shouldn't have to pay for it.
angel, Sep 07 2005

       this idea is not practical - if more people use trains, there will be less places to sit and read the comics and or weather forecast over the shoulder of the man sitting beside you.
benfrost, Sep 07 2005

       [angel] They've just made public transport free for under 16-year-olds in London... Haven't they?   

       Admittedly, now that everyone's got used to getting in their air-conditioned luxury car, listening to their own choice of music, with their own choice of travelling companion, door-to-door, it'd be hard to win them back... but encouraging use of public transport must be a good thing, surely?
Dub, Sep 07 2005

       You can't make it absolutely free, as otherwise, you get homeless folks using it as shelters. This has been tried.   

       Before you complain about mass-transit subsidies, please realize the much larger subsidies for private autos. For example, one interchange redesign for autos can cost $50 million, paid through general taxes.   

       The best way to encourage less use of something (gas) is to raise the price & decrease the supply. Fortunately, the supply is already decreasing. Unfortunately, we're not preparing, and we're facing a cliff of more wars over less resources rather than choosing to rely on different resources.
sophocles, Sep 07 2005

       //They've just made public transport free for under 16-year-olds in London... Haven't they? //
No, they've just made other people pay for it.
//encouraging use of public transport must be a good thing, surely? //
Why? This appears to be assumed, a priori, with no justification.
//please realize the much larger subsidies for private autos. For example, one interchange redesign for autos can cost $50 million, paid through general taxes.//
Please also realise that everything you buy, except your utilities, came by road. Highway maintenance is not just for the private car user, it's for everyone, even those who don't own a car.
angel, Sep 08 2005

       [angel]Public transport (or any other transport) cannot be made "very-very cheap or free"; the closest you can get is to make other people pay for it.   

       Well, duh--please don't be stupid. Of course I meant free for the user, not waving a wand and making it happen by magic--I noted that this would be expensive, meaning for the taxpayer, naturally, and hence all of us. But the point is precisely to encourage its use and reduce overhead costs (which are actually fairly low normally, but would be made higher by the proposal considered here). The question remains whether this would provide a net benefit by reducing congestion and pollution. I'm not sure if it would, but I'm not sure that it wouldn't. In either case, it's a less silly idea than offering occasional prizes, imo--though this may not say much.   

       [sophocles] You can't make it absolutely free, as otherwise, you get homeless folks using it as shelters. This has been tried.   

       Good point. So this wouldn't work--unless we also had some kind of time limit for use of the whole system, which would increase enforcement costs and be quite annoying for all, & open to abuse etc., *or* provide better alternative shelters (who wouldn't prefer a warm bed, even in crowded quarters, to a warm bus and crowded bus seat?) The latter isn't such a bad idea to be forced into as part of the package, except for libertarians like angel who don't believe in public goods, or perhaps ([angel] Highway maintenance is not just for the private car user, it's for everyone, even those who don't own a car) only in those involving pavement.   

       I, not just the homeless person, would be befitted by having better shelters to get such persons off the street and further away from becoming either criminals or victims.
scottinmn, Sep 12 2006

       Tauranga City Council and local bus company here in Tauranga, New Zealand are going to give members of public free 1 year travel on local buses in return of crashing their car. That car must be roadworthy, have current registration and warrant of fitness. This is going to happen on World Carfree Day. Crash da bomb.
Pellepeloton, Sep 12 2006

       I think the idea of public transportation paid for by taxes, and not by fares has quite a bit of merit.   

       Sure, sure, there would be abuses, and risks. Homeless folks might try to use it...   

       A lot of these peoblems can be solved by requiring identification. After all, not everone in America is a taxpayer...   

       We could start by having it available free to senior citizens. They'll show their ID cards, and get on for free. Most seniors have a fixed income, and are very fiscally aware, so a free bus will likely catch their attention, and it'll take some of the elderly drivers off the road. Whether that attracts you because they're slow, or because they may be blind, I'm pretty sure everyone can see a benefit in this.   

       Then you could expand it to free for people on government work programs. Hey, they're nearly broke anyway, and if they have a vehicle, chances are they can't afford to maintain it properly. I'd be willing to redistribute some of my wealth to get them out to their place of work on time, and as most of them end up in the service industry anyway, I think getting a free ride from the government might improve their disposition.
ye_river_xiv, Nov 29 2008

       //I still won't be using it, so I still shouldn't have to pay for it// To take the idea a bit further i want an ID card that contains (or links to) details of exactly which items i have elected that my tax dollars should contribute towards.   

       This card should have to be scanned to allow me access to only those items i have helped pay for... Roads, footpaths, bridges, Police, Fire dept, trains etc. "Sorry sir i can't help you with that knife in your chest, you're not a contributor." :-)
superjohn, Nov 30 2008

       If you give me a BMW I promise that I'll carpool with somebody so that I end up driving fast in the HOV lane.
quantum_flux, Nov 30 2008

       The train in Portland, OR is free for 7 blocks in either direction of the town center. It is used a lot (the 5th most ridden in the US), and when I was there it didn't seem like homeless &c were abusing it, although it was crowded at some times of day, its speed made up for that, because if there was no room you could just wait for it to come around again.   

       Personally, I think "free" (tax supported), quality public transport is the way to go. I find it convenient, and it would save everyone money in the long run.
Spacecoyote, Dec 01 2008


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