Along with the issues and other observations we also mapped out some existing solutions which have been applied in the context of waiting and public transport.
THE TALKING WINDOW
Many people standing in the bus end up leaning against the window for comfort. This was cleverly used by advertisers in Germany where the windows played low frequency sounds which can only be heard by people leaning against them, via bone conduction. This way a passive time of the passengers became occupied and advertisers gained another medium. However this can also have a flip side of irritating commuters, specially the daily commuters.
Another interesting intervention we saw, was the Metro Nap app which basically makes sure that the commuter wakes up at the right time so as not to miss their stop. Here the commuter can safely doze off after getting into the subway only to be woken up by their vibrating phones just before the train stops at the destination. This intervention helps the commuters perform their preferred activity with minimum tension.
In the city bus stop at Belgaum in the state of Karnataka (India), a new way to occupy customers has been applied. Here a modern coffee shop has been opened for all the people waiting for their bus service for hours. It is fully furnished with a Television for entertainment as well as WiFi for the smartphone carrying youngsters.
Let’s zoom into the color coded map to look at some neutral observations.
We observed a lot of people plugged into their portable media devices – mostly cellphones. Most of them were listening to music while others were talking via the mic in the earphones. This was observed more in the younger passengers – travelling alone.
If waiting was a great source of frustration for the people at the bus stops, it was the only source of livelihood for the street hawkers. We observed a lot of street hawkers selling a host of items from snacks, water pouches to cigarettes and pan masalas.
Let’s zoom into the color coded map to have a look at some of the issues.
We observed that when people are standing at the bus stop they tend to stand in the yellow box on the road where the bus is supposed to park, instead of the bus stop structure itself. This lead to the bus stopping in the middle of the road which caused a traffic obstruction. This behavior was mainly because people need clear information and visibility of the incoming bus for which they move to the road and keep looking to the right.
NO CHANGE NO TICKET
Another thing we observed during one of our study trips in the AMTS bus, we observed that change is another issue while buying tickets. People often do not carry change while the tickets are always odd figures. This leads to increased ticketing time or sometimes even commotion and fights.
BUS/AUTO STOP ?!
We observed that the autos waiting for passengers stop right in front of the bus stops. They keep calling out to people waiting there. They often are hired by some people who are in a hurry or those just get frustrated by waiting for too long. Nevertheless the autos again become a traffic obstruction and occupy the area where the buses should be able to stop and then accelerate in matter of seconds.
Coming back to the BRTS system, the system requires dedicated roads where the buses can ply at top speeds without any obstructions. However many parts of the city, like the old city, have very narrow roads or even many parts of the new city have roads which cannot be further widened. This creates a problem of inaccessibility for the people who actually need this service, as these are the crowded parts of the city where public transport can solve a lot of issues.
Finally we had a topic and a context at hand. We started by studying wicked problems, to choosing a topic, to now finally choosing a context. The context was Bus services (AMTS & BRTS) and the topic was waiting and queuing. We went back to the studio to research online and study about the existing bus system and the various related systems. Earlier we had gone to the different bus stops and the bus terminal during the initial research. Here are the observations and the links shared by us in our earlier post.
THE COLOR CODED CARDS
We had discussed different ways of classifying the data all throughout the duration of the course. This time while recording our observations and research we used color coded cards to classify them. We made 4 categories – Neutral observations (yellow), Existing approaches/solutions (blue), Issues related to the system (red) and Other miscellaneous factors (orange). Over the next few days we carried out simultaneous on and off field research and kept on adding colored cards to the board.
Below are different sections of the mapping. The cards are based on online as well as field observations. Hence we see a range of international as well as local information based cards.
Here is the slideshow version of our mapping for better viewing.
After having studied waiting and queuing in different contexts, it was time to decide one context for further study and intervention. This was necessary so that we can focus on that specific context and study it in detail to bring out system solutions. It was a difficult task to narrow down as we saw a lot of scope in all the contexts. In order to simplify the process of choosing, we created a map tagging each context based of different factors like – individual/group waiting, duration of waiting, active/passive waiting, lack of resources/process takes time, etc.
After a lot of debate We narrowed down to four topics – Railway Station, Supermarket, Regional Transport Office and Bus services (AMTS & BRTS). We then considered a lot of factors like our own personal interests and visions for the systems project and then finally decided to take up Bus Services (AMTS & BRTS) as our final topic. It was a time of great joy and celebration after a lot of deliberation!!
This small exercise was to create personas. From the initial field visits and understanding the scenarios of waiting. We also on a parallel side listed down the different types of people that were the stakeholders in that scenario of waiting. And that became our starting point to create a basic map of these small characteristics, that when used in different combinations can create different personas for waiting in a context and how different persona’s waiting experiences differ and needs to be addressed.
So things like gender, age, economic status, education, and other things affect the experience of waiting in any context. For example, the waiting experience of an old man, whose economic status is middle class, and is of a particular caste and has a particular status of literacy. His experience of waiting for a train will be different than a Woman, with a small kid, whose economic status is different and her education and literacy levels are different from the man.
When we visited the Alpha One mall in Ahmedabad, we also observed some disguised forms of waiting – moving in an elevator or an escalator. Here people are waiting to get from one place to another (one floor to another). In an attempt to find patterns and observe how people behave in these two situations, some interesting observations were made.
It was observed that 95% of total people observed placed their hands on the moving railing of the escalator till just after reaching the floor again. Some people were carrying bags but still had their other hand on the railing. In case of a crowded elevator, people were arranged in a very random way even facing backs of people they know and while being pushed face to face with strangers! Most of them looked down towards their phones or their feet. Interestingly, even though most of them were in groups, nobody was talking. Here is an photo taken by us in the elevator of Hyatt Regency (Pune)