Tampa native proposes rewards system for bus riders

Riders could accrue points, coupons

TAMPA - A Tampa woman, in conjunction with a "Change Labs" class at Stanford University in California, is proposing a rewards-based incentive program for bus transit in the bay area.

Jaya Goswani, a Stanford grad herself, was based in Tampa and worked with the class while they were in California. During the two month project, which took place from April to June of 2013, the group communicated with Hillsborough County's Metropolitan Planning Organization.

Their goal was to tackle issues relating to public transportation in the bay area. Since it was approved class work at the California school, the project did not cost the city anything, according to Tampa City Councilwoman Lisa Montelione.

The concept the class came up with was a rewards system for bus riders. According to Goswani, bus riders would swipe a rewards card, preliminarily called a "skipper" card, while boarding a local bus. The hope is that the card would also be tied in to local businesses and sports venues. As users accumulate points, Goswani said, they would eventually accrue coupons for businesses or venues.

"We see this as a mutually beneficial platform for everybody," Goswani said.

Goswani said she would like to partner with USF's Patel School of Global Sustainability. To move the concept forward, Goswani and her colleagues hope to gain firm support from local governments and businesses.

Goswani said the project would not necessarily just be for Hillsborough County. She said it could potentially extend to Pinellas County's PTSA system as well.

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