There are many pro-transit initiatives geared towards making alternative transportation options more accessible. But -- there's something to be said for pursuing the same goal by making car transit less accessible, be it through open streets days, parking restrictions, etc.
This proposal employs a more intimate anti-access tactic, in hopes of changing car owners' habits and perspectives to the point that they become transit advocates.
The Car Curfew Challenge would be an ongoing program run by DOMI wherein:
1. Car-driving residents can volunteer to have their car keys taken away and held by DOMI for 7 days (assume a few dozen residents participating concurrently.)
2. The participants then spend the curfew period using alternative transit options, experimenting as a week-in-the-life of a low-access resident.
3. The participant's keys are returned at the end of the week, or as needed if a resident asks to abort the program.
DOMI in return provides a sort of "doctor's note" voucher the residents can use during the program as a minor safety net if they encounter an issue with an employer or law enforcement as a result of transit unfamiliarity.
If in need of supporting revenue, the city could also offer a Welcome Packet to participants as a cheat sheet listing some of the available transit alternatives run by private companies (rideshare/bikeshare/carshare services, etc.), who would in turn pay a fee to be listed in the packet.
Why would any car owner participate in this?
It would be in the city's best interest to offer a bit of "15 minutes" of local fame by running the program like any good content channel would run a program. Interviews, videos, account takeovers, etc. Recognition is enough for a surprising number of people -- although with a larger budget, there could be an incentive provided, such as a free unlimited transit pass at the conclusion of each resident's curfew week. Of course, there also exists an increasing number of people who want to rely less on their car, and this program would spur participation from those individuals.
Why would the city participate in this?
Benefits to the city are numerous:
- Turn a small portion of the tax base into strong advocates and empathizers of transit, the network effect of which is arguably just as valuable as giving 100x the residents a small, anonymous pro-transit experience such as Open Streets PGH.
- Improve the degree of inclusion in resident perspectives and challenges as they relate to public transit use, to better inform improvements to the transit system.
- Use the program and content to build a cultural bridge between city planners and car owners, who are routinely at odds with each other in post-highway America.