In a bid to ease congestion during commute hours, BART officials today announced the launching of a new rider program called "BART Perks." The idea, officials explain in a press release, is to reward riders traveling outside of morning rush-hour with points that can be redeemed for cash. So, at a time when BART is struggling to maintain service and is advocating for the passage of a $3 billion bond measure, agency officials are trying something new, and aggressive, to combat increasingly crowded commutes: handing out cash.
Pitched back in March, the six-month "gamify-ing" pilot program seeks to reward riders with points that can later be exchanged for cash or applied to a lottery-like game. The program is opt-in, and awards one point for each mile traveled. Miles traveled during certain "bonus" hours will earn up to six times as many points. Bonus hours start at 6:30 a.m. and 8:30 a.m., Monday through Friday.
“Our goal is to see if we can shift riders to less crowded times, which will improve everyone’s experience on BART,” explained BART Board Director Gail Murray. “It can also improve BART’s on-time performance during the rush since trains will have shorter dwell times at each station due to less crowding.”
Officials are committed to doling out up to $50,000 a month in cash — money that will come from BART operating funds, a federal grant, and a half-cent SF sales tax. According to the User Agreement, however, the amount of cash actually available to BART riders is quite small — 1,000 redeemed points is equal to $1, and riders cannot be paid out more than $499.00 during the six-month pilot.
Odds of winning the "spin to win" prize of $100 are one in 943 for "platinum" riders, but smaller prizes have higher odds (something fans of scratches will be familiar with).
Interestingly, you don't actually have to ride BART to get points — BART will grant 250 points (that's 25 "spins") to people who write in and request them (see the user agreement for details).
The program went live today — let the gambling with our transit infrastructure begin.