Qualitative analysis of commuters' responses to rewards for rush-hour avoidance
Ben-Elia, E. , Boeije, H. and Ettema, D. (2010) Qualitative analysis of commuters' responses to rewards for rush-hour avoidance. In: 12th World Conference on Transportation Research, Lisbon, Portugal, 11-15 July 2010.
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which is based on rewarding frequent car commuters to avoid the rush hour, using monetary incentives. Analyses of the quantitative data gathered in various Spitsmijden projects have revealed much of the factors influencing car users’ responses to rewards, their decision to participate and the order of magnitude of rush hour travel reduction. However, questions remained regarding participants motivations to participate and avoid the rush hour, and how their behaviour and motivations develop throughout the reward period. This paper describes the use of qualitative research methods (semi-structured interviews) that were applied to tackle these questions. Interviews held with 12 participants were coded and analysed using the MaxQDA software package. The analyses suggest that participants’ motivations and behaviour are not stable and that a process takes place in which the rewarding gradually leads to behavioural change. Although the reward is the initial motivation to enrol and avoid the peak, many find travel options that are in themselves rewarding, leading to intrinsic motivation to sustain the behaviour. Some eventually choose a single new travel option (stabilisers), while others optimise their choice using dynamic traffic information (flexibles). Those who do not find attractive alternatives to avoid the peak do not develop intrinsic motivation and fall back to their old behaviour when the reward ends (relapsers). From a methodological point of view, the qualitative method used has significant added value to the earlier quantitative methods in the sense that processes can be identified in which motivational, behavioural and contextual factors interact, leading to richer descriptions of and improved insight into the behavioural adaptation.
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