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Nudges To Solve Traffic

Nudges To Solve Traffic

Joshua Schank | November 14th, 2018

What will nudge L.A. forward? Dr. Richard Thaler, a Nobel prize winning behavioral economist explains in his book Nudge: Improving Decisions About Health, Wealth, and Happiness that “a nudge… is any aspect of the choice architecture that alters people’s behavior in a predictable way.” Behavioral economists like him and others have been studying the impact of nudges – i.e. small influences / pushes – on our behavior and have found that they are powerful tools for improving economic outcomes.

L.A.’s transportation ecosystem offers ample opportunities to develop and test a wide array of behavioral influences. Metro’s transportation policy, programs and projects can nudge people to make travel decisions every day. We know the decision most make: the default choice is to drive alone. This is the dynamic that has created the mind-numbing traffic that L.A. confronts across the region.

Our recently approved Vision 2028 strategic plan sets a goal of decreasing driving alone and doubling trips by carpool, train, bus, biking and walking in the next 10 years.

In Metro’s upcoming ‘Think You Can Solve Traffic?’ challenge we are seeking nudges that will move us towards our 10-year goal and fall roughly into two buckets – incentives and fees. An incentive (nudge) might be as simple as a daily free coffee in exchange for taking the bus to work instead of driving for a month. Or cash incentives for employees who do not require a parking space. While a fee (nudge) might be charging someone a few dollars if they choose to drive alone during rush hour. We are interested to see how nudge concepts can leverage technology in our smartphones and elsewhere to more systematically reward travelers for making changes in their travel choices.

To kickstart this new round of ideation by L.A.’s most innovative thinkers, Metro is holding an open Accelerator Forum on December 4, 2018, from 1 to 4 p.m. at Union Station. The event, held in the main ticketing hall, will feature a variety of presenters, speakers and guests from academic institutions, advocacy organizations and other community stakeholders – all of whom bring perspectives on the underlying dynamics of L.A.’s traffic challenges.

Metro welcomes the submission of responses to the Think You Can Solve Traffic? challenge before and after the forum (from Nov. 14 – Jan. 31).

Many ideas submitted via Metro’s unsolicited proposal process have already advanced toward implementation. Will your solution be the next one to move forward? Come join the conversation Dec. 4 – and nudge a friend to come, too.

Topics: Innovation

Joshua Schank, Chief Innovation Officer, Los Angeles Metropolitan Transportation Authority

Joshua Schank PhD, Chief Innovation Officer, in Metro’s Office of Extraordinary Innovation Joshua Schank is the first ever Chief Innovation Officer at the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (LA Metro), where he leads the Office of Extraordinary Innovation (OEI). The role of this office is to champion new ideas to improve mobility in LA County by informing the high-level vision for LA Metro, piloting and implementing new and experimental programs and policy, and serving as the primary liaison relevant to LA Metro coming from entrepreneurs, established private sector entities, academia, or individual residents. The office is also responsible for LA Metro’s Public Private Partnership (P3), and strategic planning functions.