If you’re like most of us, you’ve already spent some time stuck in traffic today. As it turns out, on average, each of us spends 50 hours in congestion every year. Well, Stanford University computer scientist Balaji Prabhakar is experimenting with a possible solution — incentive-based approaches, from reward points to lottery cash prizes, that encourage a portion of rush-hour commuters to shift their commutes to the hour before or after peak travel times. The New York Times‘s John Markoff has an excellent piece describing Prabhakar’s work — including early trials on the Stanford campus, in Bangalore, and in Singapore — in today’s Science Times:
London, Singapore, Stockholm and a few other cities around the world battle heavy traffic with a “congestion charge,” a stiff fee for driving in crowded areas at peak hours. But drivers generally hate the idea, and efforts to impose it in this country have failed.
Balaji Prabhakar, a professor of computer science at Stanford University, thinks he has a better way.
A few years ago, trapped in an unending traffic jam in Bangalore, India, he reflected that there was more than one way to get drivers to change their behavior. Congestion charges are sticks; why not try a carrot [more following the jump...]?