In a piece exploring the ramifications of new MTA chair Jay Walder's fascinating new ideas for subway fares, such as charging less for rides at night and on weekends, the Times interviewed behavioral economist Dan Ariely, who had this so-crazy-it-just-might-work suggestion for increasing off-peak ridership:
"Instead of reducing all fares by 50 percent on weekends or late at night, he suggested, maybe the transit agency should make every other fare during those hours free, turning a turnstile into a slot machine of sorts. He remembered an experiment he was part of years ago at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, rigging a vending machine so that every third candy bar was free. Sales increased by 30 percent."
YES, please do this! Anything to make the world more fun, right? Though it's all fun and games until famous subway rider Mike Bloomberg gets his first free fare.