Earn some green for greener travel: Transit agency teams with rewards app Miles to target commuters

(Miles Images)

Commuters looking for a reason to ditch the car and use alternate modes of transportation will be encouraged to do so in Pierce County, south of Seattle, through the use of Miles, an app that rewards daily movement.

Pierce Transit announced Tuesday that it’s kicking off the new two-month pilot and partnership with Miles in an effort to increase transit ridership and reduce traffic congestion and single-occupant commuter trips.

The Pierce Transit challenge as seen in the Miles app.

The Silicon Valley-based Miles launched last summer. Acting as the ground transportation equivalent to frequent flyer miles, the mobile app tracks users’ movements and rewards “miles,” which can be redeemed for exclusive deals, services and experiences. Greener modes of transport such as public transit, biking or walking earn more miles than driving a car. Users can view their miles earned per trip and receive personalized rewards with more than 175 brands across categories.

“At Miles, our vision is to reward daily movement with alternative or more sustainable forms of travel rewarded even further,” Miles CEO Jigar Shah said. “Together with Pierce Transit, we’re excited to help incentivize greener travel and reach their goals to encourage ridership through local rewards and challenges.”

Pierce Transit is promoting its partnership by offering local market challenges though the app, where commuters who use public transportation can receive a $5 Starbucks or Amazon gift card. That particular reward is limited to the first 300 users.

The county’s move toward incentivizing green travel is part of a trend being utilized by other agencies.

According to a report in Wired, Bay Area Rapid Transit, with service around San Francisco, was one of the first to use rewards to get riders to change habits. A pilot program launched in 2016 called BART Perks offered small cash rewards to commuters who traveled at less-congested times. The nearby Contra Costa Transportation Authority partnered with Miles and Sacramento Regional Transit is doing the same to push commuters away from driving.

For those concerned about privacy, MacRumors reported last year that Miles and its partners do not get specific location information on users, but that the app does know when and how users travel and what deals they engage with. A predictive marketing AI platform then reportedly matches them with other deals.

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