‘BART Perks’ program shows promise

Results of a six-month pilot program that incentivized BART riders to shift their morning commute time to off-peak hours showed promising results, transit officials said.

Preliminary results of the BART Perks pilot program, which offered passengers cash rewards for not riding BART between 7:30 a.m. and 8:30 a.m. on weekdays – the peak travel time on the transit system, was released on last week by BART and the San Francisco County Transportation Authority.

Transit officials said about 2,600 program participants had traveled during the peak period before the program began. Of those 2,600, 250 shifted their commute times.

BART said this was the equivalency of two full BART cars.

Officials said the perks program awarded an average of $35,000 a month to participants, with a total of $210,000 for the entire length of the program.

While the transit agency said results from the perks program were too small to measure any effect on overcrowding on BART trains, officials did see a reduction from participants traveling during the peak hour travel time.

BART Board Director Nick Josefowitz said in a statement:

“This program shows the benefits we can deliver to our riders and to the region by strategically deploying new technology.”

BART and the transportation authority anticipate to release the full results of the perks program by fall 2017 and decide how to further proceed.

Tilly Chang, executive director of The City’s transportation authority said in a statement:

“While a complete program analysis is still to come, we are encouraged by the program’s results to date, including the ability to manage peak demands while garnering overall rider satisfaction and employer support.”

If transit officials do decide to continue with a similar rewards program, they will have to find a new programmer. Urban Engines created the BART Perks website, but was acquired by Google. The San Francisco Examiner reported Google had decided not continue to develop the perks program website.

BART Perks was funded through a grant by the Federal Highway Administration, BART and the San Francisco half-cent transportation sales tax funds.