An Incentive Mechanism for Decongesting the Roads: A Pilot Program in Bangalore

By Deepak MeruguBalaji S. PrabhakarN. S. Rama
NetEcon, ACM Workshop on the Economics of Networked Systems

We describe an experiment conducted in Bangalore, India, for incentivizing a population of commuters to travel at less congested times. The goals were to reduce the travel times and increase the travel comfort of commuters, and to reduce congestion, fuel consumption and pollution. The project, called INSTANT (for the Infosys-Stanford Traffic project), ran for six months from Oct 6, 2008, to April 10, 2009 and incentivized the employees of Infosys Technologies, Bangalore. We describe the background, the incentive mechanism and the results. The INSTANT project involved about 14,000 commuters and succeeded in incentivizing many commutes to travel at uncongested times, thereby significantly reducing their commute times.

Our approach of providing incentives to decongestors contrasts with the current practice of charging congestors. It also contrasts with prior work on self routing” which focusses on the reaction of commuters to a spatial choice of routes (same time, different routes) as opposed to a temporal choice (same route, different times).