Israeli incentive-based pilot program aims to reduce traffic jams during rush hour. (Roni Shutzer/FLASH90) Roni Shutzer/FLASH90
Israeli incentive-based pilot program aims to reduce traffic jams during rush hour. (Roni Shutzer FLASH90)

In a creative move, Israel’s Transportation Ministry is offering drivers a cash reward for driving off-peak and carpooling in effort to reduce road congestion.

By Naama Barak / Israel21c

As anyone who’s ever tried to reach Tel Aviv in rush hour knows, the traffic is a real pain. And it’s not only Tel Aviv – try getting into town almost anywhere across the country during peak hours and you’re most likely going to calculate whether it would be quicker to reach your destination by foot.

The Israeli Transportation Ministry is now attempting to address this problem by giving out cash rewards to drivers who leave their cars behind during rush hour and to those carpooling with others.

The pilot program, now underway in its initial phase, is being tested on 500 drivers. The math is quite simple – each driver is awarded an annual ₪4,500 (around $1,250), and each time he or she drives during rush hour a sum is deducted from it. Whatever is left at the end of the year is awarded to the driver, with the maximum amount currently available standing at ₪2,000 ($550).

In addition, the drivers will receive more money if they take on carpoolers and they’ll also receive returns on journeys taken with public transportation.

At the end of the initial phase, the pilot is set to be expanded to 5,000 drivers and is expected eventually to include up to 100,000 drivers.

A similar experiment was tried in 2013 with 1,200 drivers. Participation did lead to some cutting down on rush-hour journeys and to a few hundred drivers receiving substantial rewards.

Should the pilot not succeed, Israeli drivers might find themselves paying congestion fees in a less positive attempt to reduce traffic across the country.

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