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November 28, 2004

Traffic Choices in Puget Sound

Interesting article in the Seattle Times about a road pricing study that is being done by the Puget Sound Regional Council. Drivers are charged fake money for using different highways in the area, with the price per mile varying by time of day, based on current congestion patterns. At the end of the year-long study, participants would receive any unused fake money, as real money.

I received a phone call about a month ago by someone looking for participants for this study. At first I thought it might be a scam, because they asked about the cars we owned, which could be a way to judge household wealth. But as they described the study in more detail, and asked me questions about things like the slope of my windshield (so the dashboard GPS device could talk to the satellites -- no Hummers allowed!) I became convinced it was legitimate. They said I would have to bring my car in for half an hour to install the device, and half an hour at the end to remove it, and I would be paid a few hundred dollars at the end of the year.

They said they would contact me by phone or email, but I never heard anything more. Nobody stole my cars or broke into my house either, so I remained a bit mystified by the whole thing. I checked with my brother, who works on things like traffic studies, and he said it did sound legitimate, and that regional councils did those types of studies. I was actually looking forward to participating! At least as I was stuck in traffic going to Safeco field, I could console myself that my misery was being recorded. Since the article indicates the study is real, I guess they just decided not to pick me.

Posted by AdamBa at November 28, 2004 03:55 PM

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