Evaluating Travel Demand Management Interventions Using a Randomized Controlled Trial at MIT

TitleEvaluating Travel Demand Management Interventions Using a Randomized Controlled Trial at MIT
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of PublicationSubmitted
AuthorsAdam Rosenfield, John Attanucci, Jinhua Zhao

This paper presents a trial aimed at reducing parking demand at a large urban employer through an informational campaign and monetary incentives. A six-week randomized controlled trial was conducted with (N=2000) employee commuters at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, all of whom frequently drove to campus. Split into four arms of five hundred each, one group received weekly informational `Commuter Digest' emails highlighting MIT's various new transportation benefits; a second group received monetary rewards proportional to any reduction in parking they exhibited during the prior week; a third group received both interventions, while a control group was monitored with no intervention. The paper aims to examine how behavioral incentives, namely targeted information provision and monetary rewards, can be used independently or in combination to encourage alternatives to drive-alone commuting. Success was measured as the extent to which drivers decreased their frequency of parking and increased their use of alternative modes during and after the campaign. It was found that while the combined treatment group contained the highest number of top-performing participants, no statistically significant differences-in-differences were observed amongst the treatment arms compared to the control. A post-experiment survey indicated a widespread increase in awareness of employer transportation benefits, and a much larger stated shift from driving towards transit than was supported by passively-collected data. Survey results suggested that while intent to reduce car use existed, complaints of insufficient quality of transit service and relative convenience of driving suppressed modal shifts.