A unique end-to-end experience for public transportation
Role: User Researcher, UI Designer
Our objective was to solve a civic problem through design. We decided to create a product to improve mobility for people who use public transportation in their day to day life. In 2018, Americans took 9.9 billion trips on public transportation (American Public Transportation Association). With a lot of people relying on public transportation we wanted to create a tool that will improve how people move around cities and get to their destination. According to APTA, every $1 invested in public transportation generates $4 in economic returns. Besides the economic return of public transportation, if a population has access to reliable transportation it could be a resource for social mobility.
The concept of OnTimeTransit is to create a reliable, safe, and inclusive public transportation app. Our idea was to create an app that allows users to plan out their trips ahead of time. One of the main purposes of this app is to guide users, before, during, and after their trip. Before with the ability to plan ahead routes and to look up transit options available based on location. By showing alerts of road conditions and with the ability to share their location status with friends and loved ones. The ability to connect people is relevant to our modern society since this is how people interact and move through a city.
The objective of our research was to have a better understanding of how users navigate public transportation. From the problems that come up during their commute to how satisfied they are with public transit apps out there. Our goal was to make this app user-friendly by listening to what users have to say about transportation apps. We asked our users how they feel about other public transportation apps and if they would use an app that is reliable and safe. As a team, we conducted research on users who are avid users of public transit. Most of them use public transit at least five times a week. The age group for our research ranged from young adults to mid-age adults.
Quantitative research summation
• On average, users use public transportation 5 days a week.
• 5 out of 5 users all stated that they usually travel alone when on public transportation.
• On a scale of 1-10, we asked how safe they felt, they rated an average of 5.5.
Qualitative research summary
• The biggest complaint about public transportation was reliability.
• Users also stated that bus and light rail arrival times on other public transportation apps are often unreliable causing impacts to their schedules
.• When asked if they felt safe, female interviewees tended to say that they felt unsafe on public transportation while males tended to say the opposite. One user quoted “Yes, I am afraid of riding alone and feel unsafe while on public transportation.”
• When asked about what could be improved in the public transportation apps available today most said that it would be beneficial if they monitored delays, provided less complex route directions, and provided a reliable schedule.
“Public transportation is my primary mode of transportation to and from classes so, when the schedules are unreliable, it can greatly impact my schedule and leave me in unsafe spaces waiting for buses.”
-Public transportation user
Sketching the final solution
Overall, this experience has been enriching for my understanding of User Experience projects. As a team, we faced many challenges, such as the communication being mostly online and the collaboration part sometimes was difficult to touch base with the team. But we were able to overcome the challenges and complete the project. I learned about collaboration and how to manage the work when multiple designers with different styles work together to create a unified system. From this experience, I have a better understanding of how to approach design challenges. I feel like it’s really important to have a direction set before starting. It’s one of the hardest things to accomplish but once the team is on the same page the project goes smoother and things start to take shape. My team decided to use text messages to check-in with each other and to make each other accountable for the work that we had to get done. This has been a great collaboration with my team and each person has something valuable to contribute to the success of this project. From the research side, this helped me to understand a side of research that it’s important for future projects. Users have a lot of feedback and ideas to improve our app. The idea of adding a safety feature was an idea that a user pitched, so based on that we decided to develop this app. Responsive design is very important, in another class I am learning the code that goes behind creating a website. I am learning to use bootstrap to create responsive websites, so It’s different to design for mobile apps and adapt them to tablet and web. On the web it’s easier to create grids and make sure it adapts using bootstrap. On the other hand apps have to be “redesigned” up to some extent. It’s not only increasing the size and order of the features.