Woman walking on the platform at the exit of the Ginko tramway

With a simple nudge, Keolis is encouraging virtuous behaviors

Ginko tramway, transport network operated by Keolis in Besançon
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PostedOCT. 5, 2022
Words byKeolis
    How can operators encourage best practices in public transit without imposing new rules on passengers? Keolis is now testing out nudges to solve this issue. Find out more about this promising concept with an intriguing name.

    Context: nudges, from marketing campaigns to public transit


    It’s a little push in the right direction. Theorized by Nobel Prize-winning economist Richard Thaler, the nudge has emerged as a major new concept and a gentle way to guide consumers towards more virtuous behaviors. Let’s take an example: the Besançon metropolitan area and Keolis are employing this process on the Ginko network. In order to encourage passengers to validate their tickets, at every stop the system displays the number of people on board who have not validated their tickets. To make this calculation, an algorithm compares the number of passengers getting on and off with the number of validated tickets. Depending on the result, a dedicated screen displays a message of congratulations, encouragement or a warning – always anonymous, of course. The aim of this approach is to encourage passengers to validate their tickets, in addition to the traditional “firm” methods such as ticket inspectors. 


    The nudge as a tool for customer knowledge 


    Led jointly by the Keolis Innovation Department, its Besançon subsidiary and Grand Besançon Métropole, the development of these nudges now provides a better understanding of passenger behavior. Collecting this data also helps the operator to identify the stops in the Ginko network where fraud is most prevalent in order to better target inspection operations.


    Nudging, a concept with a bright future


    While testing of the dynamic nudge system will continue through summer 2022, Keolis Besançon plans to extend this approach to new parts of the network. Nudging can also be replicated at other Keolis subsidiaries using vehicles equipped with counting devices and ticket validation sensors. Other use cases are already being studied: safety (seat belts in buses, safe distancing on platforms) or traffic management in stations (use of stairs versus escalators). The future looks bright for the gentle nudge.  

    Nudge : a soft method designed to steer users towards more virtuous behavior.
    The dynamic anti-fraud nudge tested by Keolis in the Besançon buses

    The dynamic anti-fraud nudge tested by Keolis in the Besançon buses

    Case Study

    Getting travelers to choose sustainable travel through digital nudging 

    Keolis has teamed up with the Swedish startup Gokind to co-develop a new sustainability layer, rewarding users for increasing their use of greener public transport and incentivizing, or “nudging,” their return to pre-pandemic travel norms.

    Context: Incentivizing green travel

    A fintech based in Stockholm, Sweden, Gokind launched the world’s first type of banking app that enables users to discover the sustainability and diversity actions of the companies and services that they buy from. The 12-month collaboration with Keolis, which started in November 2021, aims to add a new layer — mobility nudging — to incentivize and reward travelers in order to increase the use of public transportation. In doing so, the partnership will hopefully curb the less sustainable travel habits developed by many people during the pandemic, thereby guiding them to greener options.

    Image of passengers crossing a crosswalk in an urban environment

    Innovation: Gokind’s app guides users towards sustainable products and services


    The Gokind app makes it easy and affordable to live more sustainably by allowing users to receive personalized nudges and challenges towards greener alternatives based on their purchases. It combines the sustainability data of brands and services with user spending data to guide them towards supporting greener and fairer products and services. For example, switching from a traditional energy provider to one that uses only renewables and promotes gender equality in the workplace, or swapping a personal motor vehicle that runs on fossil fuels for a pass on the electric public bus.


    Value: Gokind’s app is designed for scalability


    Increasing the use and status of public transportation is only the beginning of the story, with Gokind also including tailored nudges and to encourage travelers to consider off-peak traveling on those services. Over time, the information that is generated grants both Gokind and Keolis a deeper understanding of the communications, incentives and rewards that trigger people to make changes in their choice of transportation.  


    The platform is also designed to engage with younger audiences, nudging them towards sustainable travel from an early age. By combining travel purchases with all others purchases, the app succeeds in doing what many apps that focus purely on commuting often don’t: retaining long-term user attention and combatting greenwashing.  


    The Gokind platform and app have also been built for scalability, and can be connected to all EU banks, which means that they offer great opportunities for expansion and the application of findings beyond Sweden to all parts of the EU, and eventually, on a more global level.  


    The Gokind platform was selected by the EU Horizon R&D funds as the sole winning company solution on fighting greenwashing and misinformation, indicating the level of innovation. The project allows us to enable the same level innovation but within mobility.   


    The Gokind platform has proven itself in real life. Users that use the app have increased their use of second-hand shopping, switched to greener electricity plans and even switched to more ethical insurance providers. With Gokind’s data driven approach, this shift in consumer behaviour can be proven by the spending data of the users. 


    Next steps: Using Gokind data to build better incentives and rewards, thus leading to greener traveler behavior


    The incentives and rewards that are tested in the Gokind platform are tailored to the unique travel patterns of the user. The more data and insight that are gained about traveler behavior, the better Gokind can tailor incentives and rewards to tackle specific pain points that travelers today encounter when considering public transportation. The project team is also using macro data, as well as collecting information from qualitative interviews, to hone in on how best incentives and rewards for the Smart Mobility Nudging project can be further customized. From a competitive landscape, this is truly a unique project. This is the first-time consumers will get tailored mobility nudging as an integrated part of a lifestyle app that helps them to sustainable choices in all parts of their life. 

    Visual of the Gokind application
    Visual of the Gokind application