The effects of a financial incentive on motives and intentions to commute to work with public transport in the short and long term

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date


Subject Area

ridership - behaviour, ridership - commuting, ridership - mode choice


Financial incentive, Motives, Intrinsic motivation, Public transport use


The present research aimed to evaluate the effectiveness of a three-week free public transport card in encouraging people to commute to work using public transport both in the short term (while the incentive is in place) and long term (after the incentive is removed). Moreover, we tested effects of the free public transport card on motivations to use public transport. Findings from our longitudinal field study showed that participants had strong intentions to use public transport while the incentive was in place, but intentions to commute to work using public transport decreased in the long-term, suggesting that the incentive was effective while in place, but not when it was removed. Moreover, participants rated the financial motives to commute to work using public transport as less important after the incentive was removed, suggesting that financial incentives provide people with a temporary motive to engage in the desired behaviour, which may explain the short-term effectiveness of the incentive. We did not observe that the free public transport card crowded out participants’ intrinsic motivation to travel by public transport. Theoretical and practical implications are discussed.


Permission to publish the abstract has been given by Elsevier, copyright remains with them.


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