Researcher Thinks Gaming Public Transport Will Reduce Congestion

Living in busy cities can be a real drag, especially if you rely on public transport to get to work during peak times.

There are times where I’m convinced it would be easier to squeeze your way to the front of a Metallica concert than it is to insert yourself into a packed train on a busy morning.

Dr Barbara Yen, a transport economist from Griffith University says that turning your commute into a game might make getting to and from work a little easier. I know what you’re thinking and no, it’s not human Tetris.

The rules of her game? Just tweak your morning routine so you don’t travel during peak times. Yep, ground-breaking stuff.

Dr Barbs reckons our habits are a key reason we’re forming moving mosh pits of a morning, and that we can all get a seat if we change how and when we travel.

The game would work on a rewards system, so those who ride a particular mode of transport at a specific time will earn points that can be cashed in for money or other rewards. I can’t wait to cash in my rewards for a moustache comb or like $1.50. INCENTIVE!

Dr Yen says she was inspired by a similar system in Singapore, where commuters are rewarded for being clever with their travel. A six-month trial in 2012 shifted 7.49 percent of commuters from peak to off-peak travel times.

“People are pressured into catching the train at peak times to get to work but employers could get on board and offer a free lunch or coffee to an employee who caught public transport off-peak,” says Dr Barbs.

She reckons as demand for better infrastructure increases, governments are being pushed to implement upgrades with a hefty price tag. Her plan, she says, will cost next to nothing (moustache combs confirmed).

“There’s a lot of empty seats totally wasted on off-peak periods. There’s enough seats so if we shift the demand there will be a better balance and we can defer infrastructure needs.”

In a weird twist, Dr Barbs says the game should only be played every six months, with rule changes each time that aim to change the habits of commuters.

Playing a game twice a year probably won’t change habits in anyone, especially if the rewards are lame. I’m no transport economist, but I just don’t think there’s enough incentive here.

Also, you either need to A) get people out of bed earlier (good luck), or B) convince employers to allow workers to start later. You’re gonna need one hell of a sweetener for either of these scenarios.

You should probably know you’re not getting any free Opal rides anymore, either.