Rewarding for Avoiding the Peak Period: a Synthesis of Three Studies in the Netherlands

Rewarding for Avoiding the Peak Period: a Synthesis of Three Studies in the Netherlands


M Bliemer, Goudappel Coffeng / Delft University of Technology, NL; M Dicke-Ogenia, Goudappel Coffeng; D Ettema, Utrecht University, NL


In the Netherlands, three studies have been conducted in which travelers are rewarded for avoiding the morning peak by car. This study describes the outcomes and a synthesis.


Pricing in transport has been embraced by several countries as a useful instrument for alleviating congestion problems. World-wide many studies, both model based and empirical, have been done on the effects of road pricing on travel behaviour and resulting traffic conditions. Instead of a negative incentive (pricing), a positive incentive (rewarding) could be given. Rewarding travellers for ?good behaviour? with money or other means is in itself an interesting concept and may trigger larger behavioural changes than pricing.

In the Netherlands, three rewarding studies have been done and implemented on the road. They all aimed to decrease congestion (or minimize the increase in congestion due to road works), but differ in implementations and rewards. In this paper we try to give a synthesis of these three studies on the effects of rewarding on travel behaviour and on the potential effects for traffic conditions.

In 2008, repairs on a bridge (?Hollandse Brug?) on an important 3-lane motorway corridor between Almere and Amsterdam was executed. Lanes were narrowed and the maximum speed limit was lowered, leading to a reduction in capacity and an increase in congestion on the already heavily congested corridor. The Dutch government implemented several measures to mitigate inconvenience for commuters that pass the bridge frequently. The measures that were offered included (1) a reward for avoiding the bridge during peak hours (6am-10am), (2) free access to public transport including bus and vanpool, (3) the use of a ferry for pedestrians, cyclists, heavy goods vehicles shorter than 12 meter and agricultural vehicles, and (4) provision of travel time information for alternative routes. During the repairs on the bridge 760 commuters made use of the free access to public transport option, 2,700 commuters voluntarily participated in the peak avoidance option. They were rewarded with 4 euros for each weekday they avoided the bridge during peak hours (relative to their base level, registered before the project). Registration was done by means of cameras with licence plate recognition. Travellers on the corridor are therefore encouraged with a reward (a free public transport pass or money) to (i) change trip decision, (ii) change mode, (iii) change departure time, and (iv) change route. Of the 2,700 participants, 500 to 800 avoided the peak hours each day. A survey was conducted to get insight into the travel behaviour of the participants and will be analyzed in the paper

Peak avoidance was also applied in 2008 during repairs of another bridge (?Moerdijk Brug?) on a busy 3-lane motorway south of Rotterdam in the Netherlands, in which similar problems were expected as described for the Amsterdam region. During the reparations that lasted for almost a year measures were taken by the Dutch government to mitigate congestion during the repairs. These measures included (1) a reward of 4 euros each day for avoiding the bridge during evening peak hours (3pm-7pm), (2) provision of travel time information for alternative routes, and (3) extension of a Park and Ride facility to facilitate travelling by public transport. Peak avoidance was applied during 3 months using the same conditions as peak avoidance in the Amsterdam region. In total 2,700 commuters took part in the peak avoidance project. During the evening peak hour an average decrease of 920 vehicles (4.6%) was measured. Additional to observed trip changes, outcomes of two questionnaires will be discussed in the paper.

In 2006 an experiment with 340 participants was conducted on the corridor Zoetermeer ? The Hague, where participants would receive a reward between 3 and 7 euros when they would avoid the morning peak period (7h30-9h30) by car (i.e., if they were not registered by cameras or detected using on-board units on the road). Instead of a monetary reward, participants could save up points for receiving a free smart phone with route information. All routes between the two cities were monitored, therefore changing route would not lead to a reward. Considerable changes in departure time were observed, mainly to earlier periods. Again, a more detailed discussion on the choice behaviour will be given in the paper.

The paper will present a synthesis of these three studies. In particular, conclusions will be drawn regarding the types and magnitude of the behavioural responses, depending on the design of each study. Elements such as the height of the reward, the allowed responses (e.g. route change or not) and the duration of the measure will be take into account. Additional issues will concern options on the side of the traveller, such as work time flexibility, household obligations but also length of the commute trip.


Association for European Transport