A trip to Italy this summer saw us traveling the length and breadth of the peninsula via Trenitalia, the country’s primary train operator. I’m pleased to report that the trains DO run on time (with the notable exception of that local from Bologna to Ravenna that just never showed up). We bought tickets online from the States in advance, from automatic kiosks, ticket windows and on our phones. Usage seems to be about evenly split between paper tickets of various kinds and phone receipts.

A certain type of paper ticket features, on its reverse side, an engaging infographic showing the environmental impact of taking the train versus driving or flying (the ticket itself uses FSC-certified recycled paper). The caption: “Choosing the train helps protect the climate…give the environment a future. Keep traveling with us!”

You immediately feel good about yourself when you look at “your” carbon savings for the two trips shown, hypothetical journeys between Naples and Milan and Rome and Venice:

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How might we build on this great idea to create an engaged community of environment-minded Trenitalia riders? Unfortunately, I have not been hired to consult with the folks at the railroad, but here are a few ideas:

  • Customize the graphic. Instead of the pretend trips shown, display the actual carbon emissions and savings for the trip you are taking.
  • Personalize the information. Build on the good feelings created by creating a personalized account where riders can see their lifetime emissions savings. Come to think of it, you can already create a personalized account; adding this in-depth information would help affirm the choice to take the train.
  • Align across channels. Getting tickets on your phone works well, but they are the design equivalent of a hate crime – a future direction could display the same information in ways appropriate to each channel.
  • Stay on Brand. Trenitalia has a strong mother-ship brand and a number of branded trains, with a fair amount of advertising behind them. None of these feature the color green or the little sun logo…I thought that it might be the Ecopassenger logo (www.ecopassenger.org) but no. Does Trenitalia have a partnership with Ecopassenger? From the fine print, I’m not sure.

Will the tech team say no to these recommendations? What about the in-house creative department? Who knows? In the meantime, keep riding the rails.