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EMPOWER is about rewarding change. We are researching how positive incentives can encourage citizens to reconsider their travel choices and reduce the extent to which they travel using conventionally fuelled vehicles.

Rewarding change also means rewarding a shift to travelling in off-peak hours, car sharing, and schemes to help people avoid travelling altogether. EMPOWER is about the use of positive incentives such as information, points, discounts, rewards, community support and games, rather than charging, pricing, rationing, restrictions and regulation.

There is already evidence that the use of a range of incentives can have a strong influence on travel choices. For incentives to be effective, past research has also shown that incentives should be personalised. This implies they should be tailored towards the preferences, personal goals and needs for each person at a specific time. The personalisation of incentives is also needed in order to address the needs of specific vulnerable groups of travellers.

Smart devices (phones and tablets) will allow two-way information flow between the travelling public and transport authorities or providers, including the ability to offer tailored incentives relevant to the individual’s travel patterns.

For this type of scheme to be successful, it is important to consider who governs the different types of data, the sustainable provision of incentives and new collaborations between transport authorities, transport suppliers and third parties. As a result, we are also researching viable business models and how best to evaluate the success of such schemes.