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Can We Fix Traffic By Paying Commuters to Play a Video Game?

Congestion pricing penalizes commuters. A new approach uses creative incentives to modify traffic patterns instead.

Stuck in traffic this morning on the way to your desk? If you were paid to leave an hour earlier (or later), would you? You've likely heard all about congestion pricing, a system that requires commuters to pay a charge to access the city center or other critical areas. But what if these plans rewarded the desired behavior rather than penalized the undesirable?

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Moving Beyond the Automobile: More from the Streetfilms Series on Livable Streets

The second installment of Streetfilms' excellent video series on the transportation solutions of the future, just released this week, covers cycling.

The good folks at Streetfilms have started rolling out a new 10-part video series about smart and proven solutions for reducing automobile traffic and making city streets safer, healthier, and better for business. In other words: making the streets more livable.

It's called Moving Beyond the Automobile, and here's how they describe it:

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In San Francisco, carpool capital of the universe, new rules are reducing the incentive for ridesharing.

For 30-plus years in the San Francisco Bay Area, complete strangers carpooled to work together. Why? Well, for a lot of reasons: carpools were exempt from bridge tolls, a special lane allowed vehicles to bypass traffic, and it was often more convenient than taking public transit. On July 1, 2010, all this changed. A toll-structure revamp eliminated carpoolers' free ride, and a new rule made it so that only vehicles equipped with a FasTrak pass—an electronic device linked to the driver’s account—are allowed to use the carpool lane. In the 30 days since, ridesharing has dropped by over 12,000 cars a day.

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