Berkeley Events

FlexPass: Incentives for reducing employee parking



Friday, October 20, 2017
4:00 pm
412 McLaughlin Hall

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Speaker/Performer: Dounan Tang

Most employers offer free or underpriced parking to employees even as they feel the pressure to reduce the number of employees driving alone to work. The FlexPass study is a parking incentive program that avoids employee discontent. We conducted a two-phase study during the year of 2015 and 2016, the FlexPass and FlexPass-Plus study.

The FlexPass study explores a new kind of employee parking permit, the FlexPass, that incentivizes employees to reduce parking. Most employees of the University of California, Berkeley buy a monthly parking permit with pre-tax dollars. The FlexPass is the same, but then refunds this money to the employee in proportion to the number of working days not parked each month. The causal power of this new parking commodity is revealed by a randomized controlled trial. The trial has built a smartphone app that collects longitudinal daily parking usage and location data from each employee. We find that the FlexPass treatment reduced employee parking demand by a barely significant effect of 4.2%. The reductions have required refunds of $27 per employee over a 3 month period. We find that unbundling a monthly employee parking permit reduces parking by making employees mindful of daily parking usage.

The question then arises: what will be the treatment effect if incentives are provided at higher level, and what is the optimal rebate value to achieve certain operation goals? To understand the value of parking and explore various incentive levels, we designed the FlexPass-Plus study. In the FlexPass-Plus study, subjects enter their willingness to accept (WTA) to forgo parking through daily second price auctions. The FlexPass-Plus study proved a direct measurement of the population-level demand curve. From the longitudinal auction data, Individual-level WTA curves are built up. Performance-based incentive schemes are then designed.

Born and raised in Nanjing, China, Dounan Tang earned his bachelor's degree in civil engineering from Southeast University in his hometown. He came to UC Berkeley to pursue his Ph.D. degree in Transportation Engineering. He is also enrolled in the M.A. program in the Department of Economics at Berkeley. Dounan’s research interests include conducting field experiments to measure and change travel behavior, particularly to reduce employee parking by monetary incentives.


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