Influencing Mode Choice: DUO Social Carpooling
Single Occupancy Vehicles are a significant contributor to traffic congestion, particularly during rush hour. According to the American Community Survey, just over 9% of commuters carpool to work . Filling just one of those empty seats takes a car off the road, reducing Vehicle Miles Traveled and contributing to freer flowing traffic. Despite the many benefits, carpooling participation in the United States has actually declined in recent years.
In an effort to increase vehicle occupancy among its user base, Metropia took the Synergy platform's capacity to influence driver behavior--such as shifting departure times and route--and tailored it to encourage carpooling. Research and planning of the carpool functionality uncovered several essential requirements: the feature would have to be easy to use and functional in many different applications; both passenger and driver needed an incentive to carpool; and smaller rewards required enhanced engagement.
In late 2015, Metropia released DUO—Driving Up Occupancy--a mobile app feature which incentivizes and rewards social carpooling.
- Starting a DUO carpool is as easy as the passenger tapping a button. Pairing of the passengers and driver is done seamlessly in the background by comparing and verifying speed, route, and proximity correlations via GPS signals.
- Variable rewards are distributed via game of chance. At the end of the trip, passengers spin the Metropia prize wheel to find out how many points they earn for themselves and the driver.
- Drivers earn additional points for each passenger in the car, making larger carpool sizes even more rewarding.
- Currently, 11% of all Metropia trips are DUO carpooling trips.DUO’s gamification elements, like the DUO prize wheel, have driven steady growth in usage (see top image).
- DUO carpooling rates among Metropia users far exceed the national percentage of workers who commute to work via carpooling. In 2016, 20% of all Metropia users across all markets carpool on a weekly basis (compared to a 9% nationwide average)
- A similar trend is observed on the local level:
- Over 25% of all Metropia users in Tucson carpool each week (compared to a 10% citywide average)
- Over 15% of all Metropian users in Austin carpool each week (compared to an 11% citywide average)
- DUO’s simplicity of use makes it possible to sync without searching in-app profiles or exchanging personal info. This makes carpooling with friends, family, and coworkers fast and easy, but it’s also made sharing rides between attendees of conferences and major events effortless.