The future of mobility
Tarelle Butts, Kaitlin Jet, Petra Nichols
Public transportation is not safe and efficient.
Purpose of Project
How might we use sound, smell, technology, and a bus assistant to create a better experience on the bus
Qualitative Researcher, UX Researcher, Asset Co-Designer, Interview Recruiter, User Interviewer, Script Writer, Voice Over Performer, Video Editor
August 2017 - December 2017
Autoethnography Research (Empathizing)
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. I arrived at the bus stop at 3:50pm, the bus was supposed to depart from 26th and Santa Monica Blvd at 3:55pm. I looked at my watch at 4:02pm and noticed the bus had not arrived. At 4:06pm I began to feel anxious and annoyed, because the bus was still nowhere to be found.
It’s now 4:09pm and the Big Blue Bus finally arrives, I’m feeling relieved. Because I have a college Identification, I get to ride the bus for free. The current rate without a college identification is $1.25 to ride one way, or $4.00 for a day pass. A day pass entitles a passenger to ride various buses all day in Santa Monica with no additional fees.
While on the bus, I noticed there were 20 people on-board, the air condition was on at a temperature that I like, people were talking, reading, sleeping, looking at their mobile devices, a man was spraying cologne on his clothes, the windows were dirty and there was trash on a seat.
I also noticed that there were bags obstructing the walking aisle. I began to think that the bags obstructing the walkway could be an inconvenience or danger to a passenger trying to pass. Before I reached my destination, two older men began to argue and one challenged the other to a fight. As I witnessed these men argue, I couldn’t help but to think, do these men have weapons? Are the passengers safe? Ultimately, the two men did not fight and I arrived at my destination safely.
Audio of Men Arguing on the bus
● The bus was late
● A man challenged another man to a fight
After completing each of our Autoethnographies, we 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.
After synthesizing our Autoethnographies, my teammates and I wanted to research and observe how others use and react to the public bus transit system. The participant was asked to draw a happy or frowning face when he liked or disliked specific moments during the bus experience.
Ethnographic Research Documentation
Key Insights from ethnographic research
The general perception of public transport is negative
- "People on the bus are dangerous, weird, and smelly" - 16 Year Old Passenger
- "I carry pepper spray" - 20 Year Old Passenger
- "I've been spit on... People are the problem" - Bus Driver
- People enjoyed hearing music from the violin at the bus stop
Defining the problem
Public transportation is not safe and efficient.
Diverge and Converge
With all of this feedback about our interviews in mind, we had to think about what our next should be. We decided to diverge by researching Metro more, then converge with all our research to make choices.
Metro User Research
Research data about Metro bus users
Relaxing Scents Research
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, we learned that certain fragrances can be psychologically therapeutic. We decided that this could serve as a way to neutralize offensive odors and keep bus passengers in a calm state of mind. If a passenger is in a calm state of mind, the passenger is most likely to be less dangerous to other passengers.
Relaxing Music Research
After researching Metro users, my teammates and I created a series of 'what ifs' to begin our brainstorming Into what the metro system could potentially be
Developing the desktop walkthrough (Ideate)
We created a desktop walkthrough to simulate an idea and solicit feedback in user testing.
We developed a Service Blueprint to visually organize the process of how our Smart Bus Network system would deliver the user experience
Smart Bus Network Storyboard
After we developed our service blueprint, we created a storyboard to organize how the smart bus network would work. The storyboard focuses on Jennifer's bus ride and how it worked with our prototype.
Smart bus network Prototype
Our Smart Bus Network prototype was developed so that we could demonstrate what and how the the system features would function. The system features we focused on were a payment system, driver less bus, smell and sound, and a trivia game that would offer free fare rewards for correct answers.
We wanted to explore how participants would react to a driver less bus, a trivia game, relaxing music, and a calming aroma.
Desktop Walkthrough User tests Reflections
We demonstrated the desktop walkthrough board simulation with 5 participants and learned the following:
- Functionality is important.
- Bus patrons care about bus frequency and buses being on time.
- An easy check in would be nice.
- Build trust with self driving buses, people need education on self driving technology.
- Music and aroma can create a friendly environment.
- There needs to be more benefits to smart buses than just driverless (Safety and comfortability is important).
Bus Simulation user testing
After completing our Smart Bus Network desktop walkthrough prototype testing, we wanting to move on to testing our ideas in simulation. We asked the participants to envision themselves pre-boarding and on-board a driverless bus. We brought in relaxing and unpleasant odors to smell test, presented a platform that would act as a payment validator system, presented and described the role of the bus attendant, introduced a trivia game, and played relaxing music.
Low Fidelity Bus Simulation Prototype Insights
Participants responded positively to pleasant smell and sound.
- A participant was concerned about the safety aspect of a driverless bus. Once the bus assistant's role was explained, they were excited.
- Walking through the simulation without aid was inconclusive because we had to guide participants through the simulation.
- Participants felt neutral about the trivia game.
- Participants understood the seamless payment system with the validator sensor.
Smart Bus Network Map
Key aspects of the service include quickly paying your fare, passenger data collection, a bus assistant who will answer passenger questions and ensure safety, sound and smell within the bus that is designed to relax and calm passengers, more frequent or infrequent services as needed, improved timetable information at bus stops, road space priority along certain routes and priority at particular traffic lights.
Metro LA Stakeholder Map
This is a map of who we have identified as our stakeholders
What Are The Benefits of This Service
Metro could use the data to improve their bus service, improve bus routes, and produce accurate bus schedules