Greater Tel Aviv traffic reduction experiment underway

Ayalon Highway  photo: Eyal Izhar

Ayalon Highways will run a seven-year trial of incentives to drivers to avoid using private vehicles at peak hours.

The great experiment "Na'im Leyarok 3" ("Moving to Green 3") for reducing road congestion in the Greater Tel Aviv area is underway. Ayalon Highways Co. Ltd., which will run the project, published a tender today to select three companies that will operate it and be responsible for recruiting volunteers, monitoring journeys, and managing the budget.

The trial is due to start this year and will last seven years. The total cost is estimated at about NIS 1 billion. Most of the budget is designated for incentives for drivers.

The aim of the trial is to encourage change in drivers' behavior, through financial and other incentives to heavy users of private vehicles to induce them to reduce the number of journeys they make in the Gush Dan (Greater Tel Aviv) area at peak times. The effects of various incentives on driving habits will be tested.

Participants will receive a NIS 4,500 annual virtual budget, which will increase or decrease over the period of the project in accordance with their travel behaviour: number of journeys, journeys at peak times, and travel route. A participant who chooses to travel by public transport or in a car pool will be rewarded through a rise in his or her budget (up to NIS 5,500). On the other hand, a participant who chooses to travel in a private vehicle at peak times in crowded areas will substantially reduce his or her budget. At the end of each year of the trial, the participants will receive a payment in accordance with their travel record, up to a maximum of NIS 2,000 per volunteer.

For the purposes of the project, monitoring equipment will be installed in each participant's vehicle. There will also be an app for communication with the participants. It will show suggestions for alternative means of travel, current information on the cost of a journey, and the participant's balance in the program, travel history, and so on.

This trial is a continuation of two previous pilot schemes in which a total of 1,200 people participated. The trial now enters its third and most substantial stage, in which, over seven years, 100,000 people with private vehicles will volunteer to participate in the project. Volunteers will be recruited from all over Israel, half of them from satellite towns in the Greater Tel Aviv. The company says that if the pilot proves a success before the end of the seven-year period, it will be possible to designate it a national program.

The trial is undoubtedly a welcome initiative by the Ministry of Transport and the Ministry of Finance, but the question arises whether the move is not too little too late in relation to the dimensions of the problem in Israel. Years will go by before the project is designated a national program and succeeds in bringing about some change in drivers' behaviour patterns. Under the plan, the trial will last seven years or even longer - the company says that there is an option to extend it to ten years.

Ayalon Highways CEO Itamar Ben-Meir said, "What is unique about 'Moving to Green' is the innovative thinking that lies behind it. Today it is clear that we will never succeed in keeping up with the rate of increase in the number of vehicles on the roads by building more roads, and we have to make drivers want to get off the roads through incentives to do so. With the aid of the broader trial we will be able to find out what has the most effect on drivers and what will induce them to abandon their private cars."

Published by Globes [online], Israel business news - www.globes-online.com - on March 20, 2018

© Copyright of Globes Publisher Itonut (1983) Ltd. 2018

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Ayalon Highway  photo: Eyal Izhar
Ayalon Highway photo: Eyal Izhar
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