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ApplyingBehaviouralInsights toTransportationDemandManagementA report by Alta Planning Design and the Behavioural Insights Team (BIT)translink.ca

2APPLYING BEHAVIOURAL INSIGHTS TO TRANSPORTATION DEMAND MANAGEMENTWHO IS THIS DOCUMENT FOR?This report is aimed at the professionalswho want to apply evidence-basedprinciples to create more effectiveand defensible programs. This maybe at the policy or funding level, butthe information in this report is mostdirectly aimed at professionals involvedin program design and implementation.Another group that has understood theimportance of promoting more activeforms of commuting is employers;major companies, such as Google,have already begun incentivizing moreactive and shared forms of commuting,for example by paying employees abonus each year to live close to workand providing flex-time to employeeswho commute by carpool. Employersare an important part of this equation,but we will focus here on ideas forprofessionals involved in the design andimplementation of public transportationprograms and systems.The report starts with the assumptionthat while some single-occupancytrips are, in fact, necessary and wellconsidered, others are simply beingmade out of habit where a better optionexists. This report focuses on those“less-necessary” vehicle trips, andassumes that applying behaviouralprinciples may provide the nudge thathelps people make a change.There are also supply-side solutions toeffecting behaviour change - such asproviding more frequent transit service,or building new cycle infrastructure - butsupply-side solutions can be expensive,time-consuming, and politically charged.Demand-side interventions havetremendous potential to deliver resultsquickly and economically, and can serveas the perfect complement to supplyside work. In many cases, demand sideinterventions are underused despitehaving the potential to be impactful andlow-cost. This report will therefore focuson the demand side of the equation,and the ways in which behaviouralinsights can be applied. The applicationof behavioural insights to TransportationDemand Management (TDM) is still anemerging field, so ideas put forth hereshould be rigorously tested in contextbefore being scaled.

APPLYING BEHAVIOURAL INSIGHTS TO TRANSPORTATION DEMAND MANAGEMENTTABLE OF CONTENTSIntroduction . 4Try it Again . 10Make it a Habit . 18Use it Well . 26Conclusion . 32Glossary . 343

4APPLYING BEHAVIOURAL INSIGHTS TO TRANSPORTATION DEMAND MANAGEMENTINTRODUCTIONHow can we encouragepeople to make use of thetransportation systems inplace - to improve transitridership and, in turn,to improve the health andhappiness of our societies?4 5OFCanadian commuters useprivate vehicles to get to work 123%of people take public transitto work in Toronto 119.7 %of people take public transitto work in Vancouver 1

5APPLYING BEHAVIOURAL INSIGHTS TO TRANSPORTATION DEMAND MANAGEMENTIntroductionFour out of every five Canadiancommuters use private vehicles to getto work. Even in metropolitan areaswhere other forms of transportationare more accessible, only about 23%of people take public transit to workin Toronto and 19.7% in Vancouver, forexample.1 Yet we know that commutingby car has serious drawbacks. Carcommuters have significantly higherlevels of reported stress comparedto train commuters;2 they reportlower levels of life satisfaction and anincreased sense of time pressure. 3Indeed, driving to work each day isassociated with an increased riskof developing high blood sugar andcholesterol, ultimately putting people atincreased risk of cardiovascular death.4At the same time, when too manypeople drive alone, communitiessuffer: we see impacts on congestion,pollution and greenhouse gasemissions, crashes, and impacts onemergency responders, to just name afew. Because of these societal impacts,agencies like TransLink have set apolicy to reduce drive-alone mode1 Turcotte, Martin (2016). Commuting to work.Retrieved from 012-x/99-012-x20110031-eng.cfm2 Wener, R. E., & Evans, G. W. (2011). Comparingstress of car and train commuters. TransportationResearch Part F: Traffic Psychology and Behaviour,14(2), 111-116.share. Commuting by taking the bus,train, biking, walking, and carpoolingwith colleagues are all forms ofcommuting that are associated withreduced stress, increased well-beingand improved physical health. Theimportant question behind this reportis: How can we encourage people tomake use of the transportation systemsin place - to improve transit ridershipand, in turn, to improve the health andhappiness of our societies?Historically, policies and systems havebeen designed under the assumptionthat people are rational actors, capableof making complex calculations andtradeoffs to optimize their own wellbeing. In the context of transportation,this assumption would lead us toconclude that the vast majority ofpeople choose to drive alone because,objectively viewed, it is the mode theyhave determined is the best equippedto maximize their happiness, health,and financial goals. This leads manyto assume that only large and costlyimprovements to public transportationsupply, could induce more people toswitch modes. Even when consideringdemand-side options,5 many employersand public agencies offer financialincentives such as a discounted transitpass or an incentive (such as a coffeecard) for biking to work, assuming that3 Hilbrecht, M., Smale, B., & Mock, S. E. (2014).Highway to health? Commute time and wellbeing among Canadian adults. World LeisureJournal,56(2), 151-163.4 Hoehner, C. M., Barlow, C. E., Allen, P., &Schootman, M. (2012). Commuting distance,cardiorespiratory fitness, and metabolic risk.American journal of preventive medicine, 42(6),571-578.5 TDM strategies are designed to reduce singleoccupancy vehicle trips and encourage the use ofactive and shared modes.

6APPLYING BEHAVIOURAL INSIGHTS TO TRANSPORTATION DEMAND MANAGEMENTHumans often have enormousdifficulty making decisions that requireany type of calculation, and evenmore difficulty taking action when abehaviour is not yet a habit.individuals will calculate the financialbenefit and, because of that, changetheir behaviour. However, it turns outthat humans often have enormousdifficulty making decisions that requireany type of calculation, and evenmore difficulty taking action when abehaviour is not yet a habit. Even whenit comes to matters as impactful as ourretirement savings or whether we willbe organ donors,6,7 we are notoriouslybad at making the best choices forourselves. We rely on mental shortcutsto help us make decisions in a busyworld where a plethora of choices haveto be made every single day. Seeminglyinnocuous and unimportant factors,such as where a product is locatedin the store, can be as influential afactor in our decision to buy a specificproduct as the price itself. 8By blending cutting-edge insightsfrom psychology and economics,behavioural science researchershave helped reveal the often hiddenforces that shape our decisionmaking. Behavioural science offersexplanations for how we can reduceprocrastination, why we like lotteries,how to get ourselves to the gym, andwhat the best time is to try to break abad habit. Decision makers are alreadyusing insights from behavioural scienceto influence the actions of consumers,residents, the internal government,and the public at large through“nudges,” the popular term coinedby Richard Thaler and Cass Sunsteinin their seminal work, “Nudge.”9 Inshort, nudges can be thought of asnon-intrusive strategies for modifyingbehaviour without restricting choices,by accounting for behavioural biases.6 Benartzi, S., & Thaler, R. H. (2013). Behaviouraleconomics and the retirement savings crisis.Science,339(6124), 1152-1153.9 Thaler, R. H., & Sunstein, C. R. Nudge: ImprovingDecisions About Health, Wealth, and Happiness.7 Johnson, E. J., & Goldstein, D. (2003). Do defaultssave lives?. Science, 302(5649), 1338-1339.8 Sigurdsson, V., Saevarsson, H., & Foxall, G. (2009).Brand placement and consumer choice: an in‐storeexperiment. Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis,42(3), 741-745.The goal of this report is to explorehow we can use and test behaviouralinsights as a way to nudge people totry alternatives, such as transit, moreoften. While the majority of the reportoutlines specific ideas that can be putin practice to improve demand-sidemanagement, the broader approachto applying behavioural insightscan be used for a host of differentinterventions.This approach includes threekey stages: Mapping out behaviouraltouch points Designing an intervention Testing whether theintervention worked

7APPLYING BEHAVIOURAL INSIGHTS TO TRANSPORTATION DEMAND MANAGEMENTStep 1:Mapping out behavioural touch pointsIn order to identify key behaviouraltouch points in the public transportationprocess, it is helpful to create a“behavioural map” which lays outthe entire range of behaviours thatcontribute to the overall objective. Bybreaking down the problem into these“micro-behaviours,” we can identifythe points in the process where thereare psychological or behaviouralbarriers keeping people from usingpublic transit. This allows us to targetbehavioural interventions at exactlythe right points, unlocking demandwithout necessarily adjusting supply.Below we outline a non-exhaustivebehavioural map which presentsexamples of the types of interventionsTransLink and municipalities in metroVancouver might consider in thedemand-side management space.The rest of the report outlines theseand other touch points in more detail,depending on the existing ridershiphabits of different groups.GOAL:INCREASE RIDERSHIPOF TRANSLINKRegister aCompass CardSign-up for bulkpasses or auto-refillUse TranslinkTrip PlannerUse Translinkfor commutesUse public transportduring off-peak hoursPotentialIntervention PointGamify transitsystem to incentiveoff-peak transitridershipDEMANDSUPPLYPotentialIntervention PointSimplify CompassCard registrationprocessPotentialIntervention PointImplement creativeincentivesPotentialIntervention PointSend timely messageafter someone hasmoved to a newhome encouragingthem to plancommute usingTranslinkPotentialIntervention PointReframe marketingmessages to evokepersonal valuesand identityCreate a new trainor bus lineImprove transitstop designAdd Wi-Fito trainsIncreasetrain frequency

8APPLYING BEHAVIOURAL INSIGHTS TO TRANSPORTATION DEMAND MANAGEMENTEASYATTRACTIVETIMELYSOCIALStep 2:Designing an interventionAfter identifying key touch pointsthrough the behavioural map, we createbehaviourally-informed solutions toaddress demand specific to that touchpoint. For decision-makers, BIT’sEAST framework (described below)can provide a good starting pointfor brainstorming how to leveragebehavioural insights to create newTDM strategies.Based on the academic literature andon experiments done in collaborationwith organizations across the world,the Behavioural Insights Team (BIT)developed a simple, memorableframework to help decision makersthink about effective approaches forchanging behaviour. Simply put, in orderto encourage a behaviour, make it Easy,Attractive, Social, and Timely (EAST).1“Easy” tells us that identifying andreducing friction points can reduce the“hassle factor” of a behaviour, therebyincreasing uptake. “Attractive” tells usthat capturing our attention can help ushone in on something in a busy world1 Insights, B. (2014). EAST: Four Simple Ways toApply Behavioural Insights. London: BehaviouralInsights.with lots of stimuli. “Social” is aboutleveraging the direct and indirect socialpressure and norms that drive so muchof our behaviour. “Timely” considersthe importance of the timing of an askin determining the response. EASTcan provide a good basis for thinkingabout the behavioural barriers to usingtransit and how to address them, butfor a specific transit system, it wouldbe useful to do a more exhaustiveanalysis of the entire transit processfrom the user’s perspective in order toidentify the full range of “friction points”and other areas where behaviourallyinformed solutions could smooth andimprove the process. Throughout thisreport, there will be references back tothe EAST framework and how it couldbe incorporated into TDM strategies.TDM practitioners have been usingmany of these strategies already:access to real-time arrival informationmakes non-driving modes easyto understand, congestion pricingmakes driving less attractive, andgamification adds a social aspect totravel choices; these are all examplesof behaviourally-informed ways toencourage use of public transport.People’s reasons for not using publictransportation could vary widely, soit is crucial to design interventionswith human behaviour in mind and toconsider the specific needs and thepotential psychological biases of keyhigh-interest groups. More importantly,it requires clarifying what behaviourwe are actually asking of people, andwhich groups of people we are askingto make that change. Depending oncurrent ridership and agency goals,the “behavioural ask” may be quitedifferent. This report aims to presentapproaches to nudge people to: Try it Again if they are lowfrequency users, Make it a Habit if they are midfrequency users, and Use it Well if they are highfrequency users.

9APPLYING BEHAVIOURAL INSIGHTS TO TRANSPORTATION DEMAND MANAGEMENTStep 3:Testing what worksA core aspect of the BehaviouralInsights Team’s methodology is torigorously test which interventions aremost effective. Randomized ControlledTrials (RCTs), widely used in fields frommedicine to international development,are the best way of determining whethera policy is working. For online platforms,A/B testing can act as a simplifiedversion of an RCT by comparing twoversions of a web page, for example.An RCT works by randomly splittinggroups into at least one treatmentgroup that receives the program orpolicy -- and a comparison group [seevisual representation of RCT below].Because the two groups are split atrandom, if the groups are large enough,they should look statistically similaron any characteristic - the number ofmen and women, the average age, thenumber of unmotivated and motivatedpeople, or any other observable orunobservable characteristic. The onlydifference between the two groupsshould be that one group receivedthe program or policy, enabling oneto compare the effectiveness of anintervention against what would havehappened if nothing had changed(“business as usual”). This comparisonbetween randomly assigned controland treatment groups eliminates awhole host of biases that normallycomplicate the evaluation process. Formore information about RCTs and thiscore feature of the Behavioural InsightsTeam’s methodology, see the “Test,Learn, Adapt” report.1The ideas presented in this report arebased in rigorous behavioural scienceand experience in other fields, but theyare largely untested in the transportationrealm. Even interventions with astrong track record can fail or performdifferently in a new context, makingtesting especially important. Therefore,we strongly recommend rigorouslytesting any ideas laid out in this report,especially in light of the scarcity ofbehavioural literature and successfultrials in the realm of transportation.Population is splitinto two groupsby random lotINTERVENTIONCONTROLOutcomes forboth groupsare measured USING SOV1 Haynes, L., Goldacre, B., & Torgerson, D. (2012).Test, learn, adapt: developing public policy withrandomised controlled trials. Cabinet OfficeBehavioural Insights Team.Technological solutions mean thatRCTs are no longer as expensive ortime-consuming as they once were.Emails, text messages, and onlineplatforms often make A/B testing (thesimplified version of an RCT) seamless.Moreover, a well-conducted RCTallows organizations to meaningfullymeasure the return on investment ofany given tweak. In doing so, they helporganizations use their existing datamore effectively. USING PUBLIC TRANSIT

10APPLYING BEHAVIOURAL INSIGHTS TO TRANSPORTATION DEMAND MANAGEMENTTRY IT AGAINMarket research releasedin December 2014 ofMetro Vancouver areatransportation habitsrevealed that people whouse transit very infrequently(less than yearly/never) citea few major barriers:20%TIME CONSUMING/SLOW 120%ACCESS 115%UNAFFORDABLE 183%of this group said they wereDEFINITELY or PROBABLYwilling to try transit if primarybarrier was removed.

11APPLYING BEHAVIOURAL INSIGHTS TO TRANSPORTATION DEMAND MANAGEMENTTry it AgainAlthough most people have used publictransportation at least occasionally,the potential market of low-frequency,high-interest users consists of peoplewho use public transportation veryrarely, but have interest in using it.While this group probably has the mostentrenched resistance to using publictransportation, it may also present thegreatest opportunity to increase overallridership. Behaviourally-informedinterventions can be used to help thosein this group overcome psychologicalbarriers and inaccurate perceptionsto increase the frequency with whichthey ride public transportation. Marketresearch released in December 2014 ofMetro Vancouver area transportationhabits revealed that people who usetransit very infrequently (less thanyearly/never) cite a few major barriers:time consuming/slow (20%), access(20%), and unaffordable (15%).1 83% ofthis group said they were “definitely” or“probably” willing to try transit if primarybarrier was removed.Behavioural barriers totrying it againUsing public transportation can be acomplex process full of friction points,especially for those who do not useit often and are not comfortablewith it. From filling up your fare cardto understanding how often thebus comes, almost every aspectof the transportation experiencecould be confusing. In behaviouralterms, cognitive load refers to thisphenomenon as the total amount ofmental effort being used in the workingmemory; small details that make atask more challenging or effortfulcause higher cognitive load.2 Makinga behaviour simpler and easier toundertake reduces the cognitive loadand makes it more likely that a personwill actually make a behaviour change.For those who have always goneeverywhere by car, the status quo bias3- our tendency to keep doing what2 Chandler, P., & Sweller, J. (1991). Cognitive loadtheory and the format of instruction. Cognition andinstruction, 8(4), 293-332.1 Mustel Group Market Research. (2014, December).TravelSmart Mobility Management Near MarketsResearch. Retrieved from TransLink.3 Kahneman, D., Knetsch, J. L., & Thaler, R. H. (1991).Anomalies: The endowment effect, loss aversion,and status quo bias. The journal of economicperspectives, 5(1), 193-206.

12APPLYING BEHAVIOURAL INSIGHTS TO TRANSPORTATION DEMAND MANAGEMENTBox 1:EFFECT OF STATUS QUO BIAS ON ELECTRIC POWER CHOICEA survey of California electric power consumers asked them about theirpreferences regarding service reliability and rates. Respondents fell into twogroups, one with much more reliable service than the other. Each group wasasked to indicate a preference among six combinations of service reliabilitiesand rates, with one combination designated as the status quo. Resultsdemonstrated a significant status quo bias, with 60.2% of the high reliabilitygroup selecting the status quo option, although they had the option to switchto the low reliability option for a 30% reduction in rates. Of the low reliabilitygroup, 58.3% decided to stay with their status quo, with only 5.8% selectingthe high reliability option at a proposed 30% increase in rates.6we have always been doing - couldbe a significant psychological blockerpreventing infrequent or inexperiencedusers from giving public transportation atry. The existing social and institu

behavioural science researchers have helped reveal the often hidden forces that shape our decision making. Behavioural science offers . in practice to improve demand-side management, the broader approach to applying behavioural insights can be used for a host of different

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