May 10, 2017

En-route to greater commuter clarity

Something as seemingly trivial as transfer information is actually quite a challenge. For example, transfer times in the vehicle may need to be updated in case of delays. Transfers also need to be checked for relevance. If you cannot catch your transfer anymore because of a delay, it should not be shown as an option on the screen. A real technical puzzle. However, the passenger is not really interested in technology. They want to travel from A to B without worries. Think of it like sound engineering at a concert. A good sound-engineer draws no attention and lets you just enjoy the music!


To understand what the passenger needs, we started by observing people in public transport. Especially what role the information in the vehicle played. As can be expected, passengers are generally not that concerned with the information. They are mainly doing other things: looking at their smartphone, listening to music, chatting or reading a magazine.

Our observations showed that people glance at the information every now and then. For every of these “micro-moments", such as boarding the vehicle, or approaching a stop, the traveler has different information needs. We designed our screens to cater for these different information needs. Readability and comprehensibility were then tested in an initial user test in our studio. This initial test showed us that timing is crucial for passengers to be able to absorb relevant information.

Getting on the road with our prototype

To validate this timing, we decided to involve passengers in a realistic testing scenario. VanBerlo has ample experience in user-testing, but a user-test in a moving city bus was a first for us! We built a prototype with Framer.js that responds to the GPS location and displayed it on two screens that we mounted in an actual GVB city bus. Our two-days of testing then revealed opportunities for improvement that we will feedback into our design.

To be continued...

VanBerlo is currently involved in the implementation of the design, starting with buses and trams. It will be an ongoing project, so keep an eye on our website for the next stops we will be making on this exciting project.

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