Offer shopping discounts in S.F. via public transit

  • Date: 11/10/2023

The problem

San Francisco cannot regain its economic footing without a downtown revival, but many obstacles stand in the way. The pandemic normalized remote work, doing away with the need for many professionals to commute downtown daily, particularly from the suburbs. These people were the economic support for many downtown businesses, bars and restaurants, and their absence has led to business closures and slowed the downtown’s recovery. These riders also were a critical source of revenue for BART and other Bay Area transit systems. According to BART data, for example, ridership to downtown is also down nights and weekends, further hurting city businesses and putting the region’s primary transit system on shaky financial footing.

The solution

To help jump-start recovery and help both existing businesses and transit systems, we propose a consumer-rewards program called Downtown Dollars. The dual goals are to incentivize people to spend money downtown through discounted purchases, and to ride public transit more. If successful, it would help bring commerce back to the city’s economic core, make people feel safer there by increasing the number of regular visitors, and bolster our critical transit systems.

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