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Can blockchain tokens drive smarter commuting choices? – GCN.com

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By Susan Miller
As part of its 2022 Small Business Innovative Research (SBIR) program, the Department of Transportation is looking for research on using blockchain-based apps to incentivize more efficient use of transit.
In a Jan. 6 presolicitation, the Federal Transit Administration described using a gamified blockchain concept that would make more efficient use of scarce resources like parking spaces and reward commuters who consider alternatives to driving.
This proposed SBIR research project, called “blockchain-enabled transit incentivization,” calls for evaluating the feasibility and effectiveness of managing transit options with blockchain-based incentives, such as a tokenized gamification through a smart phone application.
When workers return to offices, for example, there will likely be more commuters searching for parking than available spaces, which offers the opportunity to influence commuters’ decisions about alternatives to driving. A blockchain system might offer tokens to commuters who reserve a parking place or agree to use another mode of transportation. As parking gets more scarce, greater incentives may be offered to those who use public transit or shared mobility options.
“Blockchain technology could facilitate tracked, trusted payment transactions and provide verification to ensure that users can access a reserved parking space or earned incentives,” the presolicitation document stated. “Moreover, the use of blockchain technology could ensure real-time, transparent information on incentives to travelers; provide secure decentralized management of tokens and guarantee the credibility of data; enable the use of novel gamification strategies amongst users as a further incentive; and facilitate the coordination and scaling of the system to multiple facilities.”
Besides promoting more efficient use of transportation options by allowing dynamic coordination of mobility solutions, blockchain-based incentive solutions could factor in equity considerations based on a user’s location or personal circumstances, FTA said.
Should the technology be commercialized, state and local transit agencies could use it to encourage use of public transit and other mobility options and manage their scarce parking or curbside resources. Businesses, building complexes and universities could use it to promote more efficient use of on-site parking and transit options.
For the two-phase program, FTA is first looking for a proof-of-concept report that describes how a blockchain-enabled transit incentivization program, partnered with a smart-phone-based app, would work, as well as up to three potential testing locations. By the end of the second phase, the agency expects a prototype app for a pilot with a major employer or community and the collection of key data about the effectiveness of the approach.
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