The Streamlined Public Transit Commute A Personal Portfolio Project by Eliza Barry
A Commuter's Story: Episode One Waking up early in order to get to work on time, Eliza gets dressed, hastily eats breakfast and dashes down the street to the bus stop. Waiting at the crosswalk she sees the 1L pull up to the stop, let some people off and lumber on to its next destination. “Expletive,” she mutters, “The app said I still had five more minutes. Oh well, I can still get the 1M or 101.” Oh how wrong she was. Still unable to cross the street, the 1M and 101 pass her by because there was no one at the stop waiting. Now the Capitol Metro App informs Eliza that no busses are scheduled to come for the next 30 minutes. It’s already 8:30, meaning she is likely to be late for work. Finally, the walk signal and stoppage of traffic permits her to cross the street. The recently upgraded bus stop features a sign scrolling only the message “Thank you for riding Capitol Metro” and a blank plastic-covered bulletin board. Sitting at the bus stop, Eliza scans the QR code on the back of the sign, which gives her access to more up-to-date information. Luckily, the next bus was only 20 minutes away. “I’ve got to remember to program in this number I can text,” she thought. While she waited, she reminisces on the days when she found this bus stop by trial and error.
Problem(s) The app doesn’t give updated time schedules for busses. You need to text the bus or scan a QR code to get it, requiring close proximity to the bus stop. The busses are not evenly spaced on their routes. This causes them to arrive all at the same time with huge gaps in between. Signage at the bus stops is currently a wasted opportunity. Names of bus routes are meaningless, making unplanned navigation difficult.
Solution Integrate GPS trackers with the app. Allow the bus drivers to space themselves with help from a digital system. Redesign the app to cater to the way residents use the bus. Rename bus routes to convey more relevant information.
Digital Solutions - Nomenclature http://www.capmetro.org/uploadedfiles/Capmetroorg/Schedules_and_Maps/System_Map.pdf 1S, 1N 2S, 2N 5SW, 5NW
Digital Solutions - App https://www.fluidui.com/editor/live/preview/p_MS47OaLkGK6GceCutxaynk6mA9ov51e1.1385308574453
A Commuter's Story: Episode Two Now on the bus, Eliza swipes her UT ID through the terminal. The bus is already full due to high demand in the morning, so she reaches up to grab a hanging strap. To her dismay, no one moves out of her way, even though there are open seats in the back and plenty of space in the aisle. Not wanting to rock the boat, she grudgingly nudges a sleepy student out of her way and braces for what is guaranteed to be a light-speed takeoff. However, now everyone is held up by a person whose metro card will not swipe properly through the machine. The paper bent in his wallet and the flimsy card keeps reemerging from the reader sounding an alarm signaling his failure to pay. Frustrated, he inserts four quarters into the terminal and throws the old card away, even though it still had money on it. When he stands next to me, I realize I have seen him almost everyday – he is a regular rider.
Problem(s) Busses tend to get crowded towards the front in the early morning and many passengers are unwilling to make room for new ones getting on. The man in the story has to use a flimsy card everyday while Eliza and other students have a much faster system. Purchasing new cards is also slow, especially if riders try to use wrinkled bills.
Solution Allow all residents to purchase a plastic metro card, if desired. They can pre-pay the card online through the app or at a transit center in cash. This card can also be used to trigger announcements and enable better ADA service. Keep the paper system for tourists/visitors. Add a recorded message that can be triggered by the driver to remind passengers to make room. (This problem will also be eased by better bus spacing)
Digital Solution- Card with Metrics Added benefit of advertising at the DMV and encouraging more use of public transit
A Commuter’s Story: Episode Three After a long day of work, Eliza gets a mass text from her friends. “We’re going downtown,” the message reads, “Meet on sixth street.” Seeing the message, Eliza decides to go. “You’re only young once,” her boss tells her, “finish updating the contacts and you’re free to go for the day.” Eliza finishes around 6 p.m. and walks downtown. It’s only 5 blocks. She meets her friends and has a great time. Those who drove leave a bit early and Eliza suddenly realizes none of the remaining friends live anywhere near her. It’s getting dark and she knows she will be taking the bus alone. She walks to a downtown stop and checks the app. The next bus isn’t for another thirty minutes- after all, 8 p.m. is early on 6th street- and the streetlight is out. The view of the stop from the road is also awkward. Busses have blown right by her sitting here before.
Problem(s) Poor lighting at stops leads to bad safety and poor visibility for bus drivers Failure of the system to adjust scheduling with the daylight hours for safety, compounded by inaccurate timing in the current app.
Solution Improve lighting, especially in areas with high crime. Adjust peak and slow hours based on metrics, now available via card usage.