Low Cost Transport Demand Measures Based on GPS Tracking: Real World Experience with Car Users and Train Passengers
Matthijs Dicke, Goudappel Coffeng BV, Marco Hoek, Technolution, Paul Van Koningsbruggen, Tecnosolution
In conclusion, our projects explored how geo-fences may help in providing feedback on travel behaviour and so help to make behaviour more sustainable.
The Netherlands has several peak avoidance projects (Rotterdam, Utrecht, Arnhem and Eindhoven). In these projects, car users are encouraged to avoid using the car during peak hours by providing a monetary reward when showing the desired behaviour. To monitor whether car users indeed avoid peak hours GPS tracking is used. During the first projects on board GPS-units were used. During current projects mobile (smart) phones are mainly used to make this GPS tracking possible. Using mobile phones is less expensive for the service provider and easier for the consumer than on board units. Moreover, almost all car users own a mobile Phone with a GPS function nowadays.
There is also a disadvantage associated with the heavily reliance on mobile devices for GPS tracking. That is, using GPS continuously on your mobile phone depletes the battery quickly making it less attractive for car users to participate. Geo-fences are introduced to solve the problems associated with the high battery consumption. Geo-fences rely less heavily on the mobile phones’ battery, because geo-fences make use of predefined locations. Only if a participant crosses a certain location a signal is sent to a server which consequently results in saving battery.
Geo-fences were originally introduced to conserve battery life. However, it also introduced new possibilities for peak avoidance measures, especially in relation to the provision of feedback as a way to encourage desirable travel behaviour. For example, a geo-fence can be used to recognize whether an individual is travelling by train or is bicycling on a bicycle path. So suddenly a low cost technique comes available to monitor travel behaviour in general, which also makes it possible to give various forms of immediate feedback on such behaviours. For example, the monitoring can make it possible to provide positive feedback, such as a compliment, to the traveller while performing the desired behaviour (e.g. travelling by train). Research shows that direct and positive feedback motivates individuals to perform the desired behaviour more often and for a longer period of time (Abrahamse & Matthies, 2012).
In two projects, we explored how geo-fences could be used to encourage (1) rail users to avoid peak hours when travelling by train; and, (2) car users to avoid peak hours by car.
In Project 1 (“Spitsmijden in de trein”), we investigated to what extent train passengers were willing to travel during off-peak hours for a monetary reward. Geo-fences were placed nearby railway stations to determine at what time a train passenger boarded. Approximately 1,275 rail users participated in the project. Our findings showed that the number of trips in peak hours was reduced by approximately 6,500 trips each month. Geo-fences helped to determine when a participant travelled by train.
In Project 2 (“Winnen van de File”), we examined to what extent car users were willing to avoid peak hours. Instead of a monetary reward participants were rewarded with an app that showed predicted travel times when using the car on the motorway (i.e., A2, between Eindhoven and ‘s-Hertogenbosch). In theory, these travel times could also be measured by the participants themselves through the use of geo-fences. Furthermore, participants played a game against congestion and participated in a lottery. Techniques for behavioural change were used to increase the number of participants and to increase the effect of the measure. During the first month of the project the app including the travel information was downloaded 1,200 times.
In conclusion, our projects explored how geo-fences may help in providing feedback on travel behaviour and so help to make behaviour more sustainable. Based on our experiences we believe that new low cost approaches, such as the use of geo-fences, help to influence travel behaviour in a desirable direction. It helps to base the direct feedback on actual travel behaviour combined with a short term travel advice. This will lead to a cost effective approach to stimulate people to travel on other times, using other transport modes or even to make the choice to stay at home.
Association for European Transport