An endogenous lottery-based incentive mechanism to promote off-peak usage in congested transit systems

Research output: Contribution to journalResearch articleContributedpeer-review


  • David Rey - , University of New South Wales (Author)
  • Vinayak V. Dixit - , University of New South Wales (Author)
  • Jean Luc Ygnace - , Université Paris-Est Marne-la-Vallée (Author)
  • S. Travis Waller - , Chair of Transport Modelling and Simulation, School of Civil and Environmental Engineering and NICTA, University of New South Wales (Author)


In this paper, we evaluate a lottery-based revenue-neutral incentive mechanism to reduce the congestion in urban transportation systems. Specifically, we test the use of random lottery-based reward schemes to promote public transit usage during off‐peak periods. We derive the theoretical equilibrium for this decision-making game and test the validity of the proposed mechanism through monetized laboratory experiments. We use methods from experimental economics to investigate the behavioral assumptions within such an incentive-based mechanism. We find counterintuitive results where a Pure Nash Equilibrium explains behavior in one regime and Quantal Response Equilibrium explains behavior in another regime. Specifically, there is no shift to off-peak periods when the expected value of traveling in the off-peak is less than that at peak, which is explained by a Pure Nash Equilibrium. However, there is a substantial shift to the off-peak period when the expected value of traveling in the off-peak is larger than that of the peak, but much less than that predicted by a Pure Nash Equilibrium. The Quantal Response Equilibrium performs reasonably well in this condition, and we conclude that risk attitudes play a significant role in explaining behavior in lottery-based incentive mechanisms. This study, which relies on the gamification of travel behavior, finds that the proposed mechanism can provide a sustainable shift in users’ choices.


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)46-55
Number of pages10
JournalTransport policy
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2016

External IDs

ORCID /0000-0002-2939-2090/work/141543916


Sustainable Development Goals


  • Experimental economics, Gamification, Incentive mechanism, Lottery, Transit