BART readies cash rewards for off-peak riders

The City of San Francisco and Bay Area Rapid Transit are teaming up to launch a six-month pilot program that will offer cash rewards to BART riders who avoid commuting during peak times.

SFBay previously reported about the program during its infancy stage when the San Francisco County Transportation Authority commission approved to partially fund part of the pilot program. The program called “BART Perks” was launched on Tuesday.

BART officials are looking for East Bay riders who travel to the San Francisco Montgomery and Embarcadero stations to join the program by signing up at All BART riders though can participate in the program. Riders must submit their email address and Clipper card number.

Participants in the pilot will earn one point for every mile traveled for just using BART, but riders can earn anywhere between three to six times the points if they start their trip during a bonus hour. Those hours are between 6:30 a.m. to 7:30 a.m. and 8:30 a.m. to 9:30 a.m Monday through Friday.

The number of extra points earned during the bonus hours will depend on how many trips riders take a week during those specific times.

Riders will be able exchange points for cash. For every 1,000 points earned, riders will get $1, or they can play the “Spin To Win” game to pick up additional points or cash prizes ranging from $1 to $100, according to BART officials.

There is a also a “Bonus Box” offer that will occasionally pop up where participants are offered limited time offers to earn more points.

Each month, reward balances will get transferred to participant’s PayPal accounts, according to BART.

BART Board Director Gail Murray said in a statement that the goal of the program is to shift riders to times when BART is not crowded. She said the program will also help BART’s on-time performance:

“It can also improve BART’s on-time performance during the rush since trains will have shorter dwell times at each station due to less crowding.”

Officials at BART said that if 1,200 riders shift their commute times outside of the morning peak commute, it would be the equivalent of relieving crowding on a 10-car train, making room for commuters who are not able to change their commute times.

Tilly Chang, executive director of the San Francisco County Transportation Authority, said in a statement that based on the positive feedback on a similar program in Singapore, officials are testing the program in hopes of easing overcrowding on BART trains:

“Using data analytics and easy-to-use mobile web sites, we hope to gain deeper insight into how demand management strategies like incentives can help us nudge traveler choices and improve operations for the system as a whole.”

Officials are also encouraging employers to sign up to participate in the pilot program.

Those who want to join should hurry because the pilot will accept up to 25,000 participants.

The total cost of the pilot program is $954,000. Federal funds, San Francisco’s Proposition K half-cent sales tax  and funds from BART are paying for the $954,000 pilot program.

After the pilot program ends in February 2017, officials will evaluate the results and determine if the transit agency should pursue future incentive programs.