The smart bus network

User Research + Service Design


This was a school school project for my Service Design class. The brief's theme was "Improve Mobility."

August 2017 - December 2017

Passengers do not feel safe on public transit

Shift the role of the bus driver to bus assistant. The bus assistant will roam the cabin of a driverless smart bus, answering passenger questions and ensuring safety

Buses will incorporate relaxing music and fragrances designed to calm passengers. A companion app concept was also designed to quickly pay your fare, and provide service data to improve service reliability


Tarelle Butts, Kaitlin Jet, Petra Nichols

I conducted user research of the target audience, Co-designed the journey map, and desktop walkthrough, Wrote and performed the voice-over script, and edited the video prototype.

The Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority is the agency that operates public transportation for the County of Los Angeles. 



To kick off our project, my teammates and I wanted to experience what it would be like to ride a Metro bus. We each conducted an Autoethnography and documented our experience.


● The bus was late
● A man challenged another man to a fight


Journey Map

After completing the autoethnography stage, my teammates and I discussed our experiences and then developed a Journey Map to illustrate our emotions during pre boarding, the bus ride, and our exit from the Metro bus. 


Ethnographic Research

After synthesizing our Autoethnographies, my teammates and I wanted to research and observe how others use and react to the public bus transit system. We spoke with bus drivers, along with frequent and infrequent passengers.



In one of our interview sessions, an interview participant mentioned “People on the bus seem weird, dangerous, and smell.” This quote triggered my teammates and I to research scents. We originally wanted to learn more about neutralizing offensive odors, but we learned, that certain fragrances can be psychologically therapeutic. The goal is to use Aromatherapy to keep passengers calm, so they aren’t a threat to others.

In aromatherapy, fragrance substances (aroma/ odor/ scent) from various natural sources have been used for the treatment of various disorders. The aromatherapy treatment is a natural way of healing a person’s mind, body, and soul.

Relaxing Music

In one of our interview sessions, an interview participant suggested that LA Metro play music on the bus. This suggestion triggered my teammates and I to ponder what type of music would be played if LA Metro considered playing music. We decided to research music therapy. We learned that music is effective for relaxation and stress management.

Music can have a profound effect on both the emotions and the body. Faster music can make you feel more alert and concentrate better. Upbeat music can make you feel more optimistic and positive about life. A slower tempo can quiet your mind and relax your muscles...
music therapy

Designing the Prototype

We created a desktop walkthrough to simulate our ideas and solicit feedback in usability testing. Our goal is to create a better experience on the bus through relaxing music, aromatherapy, and gaming that rewards passengers for participation.


Usability Testing

We wanted to explore how participants would react to our payment system, driverless bus, a trivia game, relaxing music, and aromatherapy. We presented our desktop walkthrough and talked through each phase of the system.

After gaining feedback from the desktop walkthrough, we used our classroom to design a low-fidelity bus environment. We asked participants to play the role of bus passengers as we simulated the experience to gain more user feedback.


Usability Reflections

  • Bus patrons care about safety and buses being on time

  • An easy check in would be nice

  • Build trust with self driving vehicles, people need education on self driving technology.

  • Music and Aroma can create a relaxed environment.

  • The trivia game was welcomed, but we ultimately decided not to use it for our presentation.