A lottery which rewards drivers who choose off-peak times to travel, leave early, or do some other thing designed to help alleviate traffic congestion have been used effectively in California, although on a very limited basis. The lottery has resulted in commuting times being reduced and rewarded some small cash prizes to drivers. Plans are already underway to institute a similar program in New York, home of some of the world’s most heavily congested streets. The New York plan will be a pilot program tested in a small area and not everyone believes it will be effective.
Some opponents of the plan say the incentives for drivers, between $10-$50, would be too small to prompt drivers to avoid heavily congested areas. They also question the ability of a centralized service to allow drivers with mobile devices to be tracked accurately and effectively. In addition, they question whether incentives will work as well as dis-incentives, meaning punishing drivers who fail to avoid heavily congested areas would work better than rewarding drivers who do.
Proponents of the plan say the system to track the proliferation of mobile devices is already available and much less cumbersome than any program which provided dis-incentives for drivers. They also say that providing incentives for drivers who follow the rules is far less expensive and are also better able to be scaled to grow larger as needed or reduced in size when the situation improves.
The fact is anything which can improve the flow of traffic in cities these days should be considered. Heavy traffic congestion is not only a problem for people trying to get from one place to another they are also a drain on natural resources as stopped vehicles burn fuel although they are going no where. These slowed or stopped cars also add to the carbon levels in the atmosphere, something which has been recognized as contributing to global warming.
In New York, a lottery might just be the winning ticket when it comes to traffic.