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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PostedDEC. 12, 2023
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: a nudge to encourage ticket validation


    It’s a gentle encouragement in the right direction. First theorised by the Nobel Prize-winning economist Richard Thaler, “nudge” has established itself as a major contribution, and a gentle method of guiding consumers towards more virtuous behaviour. Case in point? In 2022, the Besançon metropolis and Keolis Besançon experimented with this process for several months on the Ginko network. The aim was to encourage passengers to validate their tickets. The system displayed emoticons that depicted the number of passengers on board who had validated and the number of passengers who had not. This on-board visual nudge is based on an algorithm that cross-references the number of passengers boarding and alighting with the number of people who have validated their tickets. The aim of this 100% anonymous system is not to blame and shame, but to encourage validation by displaying congratulatory or encouraging messages depending on the rate of non-validation calculated by the algorithm.  

    Nudges as a way of understanding traveller behaviour  


    The work of co-constructing these nudges, carried out by the Innovation Department of Keolis, its Besançon subsidiary and Grand Besançon Métropole, has enabled a better understanding of passenger behaviour. The algorithm and the data collection process now make it possible to identify areas where fraud is significant and to engage the field teams in their work to keep raising passenger awareness through prevention and control initiatives. 

    This use case of how nudge can be applied to validation incentives is of interest to many KEOLIS networks. It is now easily possible to replicate this system thanks to the widespread use of vehicles equipped with counting cells.

    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

    Nudging, a concept with a bright future


    In addition to the validation incentive set up in Besançon, Keolis has introduced several other devices using nudges to encourage our passengers to change their behaviour and improve their own experience.  

    In Sweden, for example, Keolis has partnered with banking app startup Gokind to automatically reward app users for using more environmentally-friendly public transport. 

    In Lyon, Keolis and Sytral Mobilités have rolled out an offbeat campaign to encourage compliance with safety rules, making users aware of the disruptions that can be caused by closing doors on metro lines.  

    Nudge Lyon
    Nudge Lyon

    Another use case: in early April in Caen, the Twisto network – operated by Keolis Caen Mobilités – launched an experiment on certain Route 2 buses and stops aimed at facilitating the mobility of vulnerable individuals. 

    In addition to these use cases, several others have been introduced or are already under consideration: encouraging modal shift, promoting the use of seat belts in buses, improving the flow of traffic in stations by encouraging the use of stairs rather than escalators, etc.  

    So the friendly nudge is here to stay! 

    Nudge Caen
    Nudge Caen

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