How gamification of travel is aiming to boost ridership in Italy

“ For each level passed in the game, passengers receive other rewards that can be shared via social networks and all their results are publicly presented in a ranking…”

For those using public transportation in the Bolzano region of South Tirol in Northern Italy, their journey is already made appealing by the views out the window. Entirely located in the Alps, the regions landscape is dominated by stunning mountains and lush green valleys. Plus we all know the benefits of getting out of the car and onto public transport, whether it be reducing pollution and fossil fuel use, increasing exercise or even saving money. But now, SASA, regional transportation company in Bolzano have added a new factor, gamification to help increase passenger numbers further. You may think that gamification is creating a game for a business purpose. But it’s not. It doesn’t create anything new. Instead it takes something that already exists, in this case travelling on a bus. And integrates game playing (e.g. point scoring, competition with others etc.) in an attempt to increase participation, engagement and loyalty. So how are SASA doing this?

Gamification was introduced for the first time to public transport, with the Singapore’s Travel Smart Rewardsprogram that fousses on easing demand from peak to off-peak times in return for offering incentives to commuters for doing so. September 2016, saw SASA launch a new version of its mobile application SASABus, everyone who is registered as a user and uses the company’s buses is, turns its kilometres travelled into points that can be used in online challenges and are added to an aggregate personal score which is publicly visible.

The number of kilometres is precisely calculated for each mobile user via Bluetooth. Every bus and every bus stop reached by SASA buses are covered with Onyx Beacons, and these devices provide, via the mobile app installed on the mobile phone and via a CMS platform, an accurate measurement of the on-bus dwell time for each mobile user.

The boarding point and the drop-off point for each travel are precisely determined as well, by using the Bluetooth Beacons deployed in each point of the transportation network. So, the number of kilometres travelled, the number of journeys and all the interactions via mobile app between passengers and the transportation company can be transformed in points and accumulated in a total score.


Passengers are awarded with points for every kilometre of bus travel, but they can gain supplementary rewards when responding to various challenges launched by the transportation company, for example they are invited to follow and go on-board the ecologic fuel cell buses (powered by hydrogen engines), to accumulate a given mileage in a month or to participate at “Giornate per la mobilità” – “The Mobility Days”.

For each level passed in the game, passengers receive other rewards that can be shared via social networks and all their results are publicly presented in a ranking, so they feel like being in a continuous competition with other users.

The team behind this aim for this to make using public transportation “not anymore a boring daily routine, but one that becomes a fun, entertaining and challenging experience.”

This is the second phase of implementation for the SASABus mobile application, based on Bluetooth Beacon technology. In the first phase of the project , 1000 Onyx Beacons were placed on all buses and bus stops, to provide interactive real-time information for passengers and satisfaction surveys, applied to passengers immediately after they have made a local travel. The project is implemented by Raiffeisen Online , a partner of Onyx Beacon in Italy, and a member of the famous Raiffeisen financial group.



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