During our prototyping sessions we analysed each of our initial ideas in order to collate areas of potential to implement into our final prototype. This was a helpful process as it also identified our rejected ideas and how else they could be implemented.
We unanimously decided that the initial idea which had the most potential was the ‘Fact Board’ as it seemed to be the most (thought provoking) influential in respect to encouraging students to walk to the next stop by using quirky and relatable facts. We also pulled the ‘colour indicator’ design aspects from the ‘3D Arrow’ idea into our final prototype by suggesting whether or not a student can walk to the next stop in time.
Through using ‘makey makey’ to prototype our project ideas we were able to generate concepts and user feedback loops of how people may interact with the system and what problems might arise as a consequence. Using PowerPoint to visually represent the board helped us define what should and shouldn’t be displayed. We had a number of debates of how information should be displayed, this included the following …
- Bus number
- How much time until the bus arrives
- Quirky/Funny fact relating to what you could do in this time
- Realistic suggestion on what you could do in this time
Our first design was confusing as we displayed too much information. We included the journey time as well as the waiting time for the bus to arrive. Conflicting numbers were an issue to understand, especially for a system that was meant to be straight forward and clear. Through testing we decided to go with simply showing the amount of minutes until the arrival of the bus.
Our complementing ‘fact’ or encouragement quote sat below this largely as this was the most important piece of information. We also experimented visually with sizing and colour to help convey our message best.
We started by using a button for each bus which when activated shows related details on the digital display. This was useful as shortly after realised that having an automated system would be far more convenient as people at the stops would be less inclined to interact with the system in such a way.
Here are brief descriptions of each initial idea we came up with during our prototyping sessions. Our ideas focus on the themes of time, experience and health. These encompass our design space by encouraging walking and increasing physical activity.
PROTOTYPE 1 – FLIP COUNTER
DESCRIPTION: One of the first ideas we came up with was a simple flip clock by the entrance of each bus for passengers to manually turn over a digit when they get on and off the bus. A possible extension to this would be electronically counting and communicated this data on existing visual display boards.
APPEAL: Being a low tech solution is one of the main attraction towards this idea as it would be easy to use and quick to convey the buses capacity to people waiting at the stop. This idea could also be beneficial to all members of the public using the bus service.
PROBLEM: One of the main issues with this solution is relying on the public to involve themselves in a system which adds an extra level of complexity to their travel experience. This solution also does not solve the problem of congestion but instead acts as an informing service. This role could also be integrated in other ways, such as the ticketing system.
PROTOTYPE 2 – 3D ARROW
DESCRIPTION: By using the digital advertising display at some of the stops, this idea works by displaying a 3D arrow on this screen to show the compass direction of where the next stop is situated on the line which goes to UWE. The arrows colour could also help to convey a message of whether it’s possible to make it to the next stop in time by changing the arrows colour from red to green.
APPEAL: This idea works with the existing technology already in place at the bus stops to encourage student to walk to the next stop. This, in turn helps achieve our goal of increasing physical activity. The strong visual aspect using only colour is another appeal as it can convey a message in a much faster way.
PROBLEM: We figured that this idea becomes partly redundant as students (which this idea is directly aimed towards) will already know which direction the bus is going towards UWE.
PROTOTYPE 3 – FACT BOARD
DESCRIPTION: We wanted to use an already existing infrastructure, so we talked about using the digital screens that hang down from the top of the bus stop and providing facts to the people waiting at the bus stop to encourage them to either walk their journey or walk to the next bus stop to get some exercise. We wanted to provide interesting facts that will either get people to walk the whole journey or part of it.
APPEAL: Encouraging exercise and trying to use an already existing infrastructure. Also by walking further to another stop, it appears to make the journey shorter by having less waiting time for a delayed bus.
PROBLEM: Interrupts existing information that the bus rider’s already need and would detract from the key data. Perhaps too small to display interesting information that we want to include.
We have decided to target our project to students who take the bus and live local to UWE Frenchay. We have decided to encourage students to increase their amount of physical activity, which will then result in improving the problems that surround the bus transport systems.
One of the main problems is that buses are regularly at full capacity; especially for those closer to UWE. These buses are often late, overcrowded, which creates frustration amongst many students. This problem is more evident at peak times where students are turned away from overcrowded buses. We found that students considered walking but often didn’t as different factors (such as weather, motivation, time) contributed to their decision.
What problem are you trying to solve?
Many students are wasting time waiting for buses that are likely to be late or full. We want to change this. We want to make sure students are not wasting time, and address the advantages of increasing physical activity. If we encourage more students closer to UWE to walk to campus, this will also begin to solve the other problem of overcrowded buses.
Who is this going to impact on?
Although the benefits will be shared by the wider community, such as other commuters not associated with UWE, the major impact will be felt for UWE students closest to UWE.
What are your constraints?
Weather conditions are likely to be a main constraint, as research suggests students don’t like to walk during cold and wet conditions. Further constraints may include budgetary conditions as well as the current systems in place along bus routes. In addition, we should consider the current technology systems already in place.
What resolution will the final prototype be?
We aim to create a ‘low-fidelity’ prototype demonstrating the basic ideas and functionality of our project. In addition, we will also create visual mock-ups of how the end product might look in context.
What is your schedule for the project?
After gathering information using thematic analysis, we will spend a week analysis our findings, another week developing our initial ideas, and then another week refining these ideas into an end product.
Through all of our interviews we noticed that time was a recurring factor in what decided the choice of transport. When it came to busses, most of the interviewees pointed out that 9am was the worst time to travel because of traffic congestion and the lack of bus lanes. As well as this, a few people said that there also weren’t enough busses. We also noticed that people would sometimes have to move stops to actually be able to get onto a bus, as sometimes they were too full after waiting for one to eventually arrive. Additionally, people would be factoring in time for the worst case scenario, like the bus not turning up or it being too full, resulting to them having to leave enough time to walk in.
All of the information we collated from the interviews was purely made from the experiences of the interviewees and these experiences led to their opinions of the transport system as well as their choice of transport. Some people stated that they enjoyed cycling or walking, to the bus as it reduced travel time as well as making you feel good. It was often the over crowed and delayed busses that led to people either walking or cycling to the University.
Value (Money & Time):
A main issue that arises was that people were conscious that they weren’t getting their money’s worth because they were paying for a bus system that made them late or didn’t even allow them to get on. It also made them question whether they would rather take part in a bit of exercise or spend their money. As all of our interviewees were students they were very concerned with getting the correct value for money.
People’s motivation to use or not use the busses varied. Some of the interviewees didn’t want to walk to University because their walk was up hill or they had a large number of items to carry. Others felt it was too far to walk so they had to get a bus pass and use the bus. Whereas some said that they just walk or cycle so that they know when they have to leave as they won’t get stuck in traffic.
Health & Environment:
Most of the interviewees were aware that the health benefits were far greater if they walked or cycled. Sometimes it made them act on this where as some still chose to get the bus.
Some of the interviewees suggested that Bristol needed more bus lanes to reduce congestion as well as delays. We also thought that if there was more people carpooling then there would be less cars on the road to cause traffic.
The weather is a determining factor on the day of travel for most of our interviewees, if they saw it was raining or it was very cold that day then they would choose to get the bus over cycling or walking. However, they knew that many other people would have the same opinion which meant that the busses would be largely crowded and even delayed. Also, cyclists said that they knew if it was icy it would be too dangerous to cycle so that is why they would take the bus that day.
People used all sorts of technology to tell them how far it would take them to walk to the bus stop, get the bus and walk to University. They also use it to tell them which busses would be coming to their stop, when and if they were delayed or cancelled. They stated that they liked the apps because of the information available to them but they didn’t like how sometimes they were unreliable which made them doubt them. From this, we looked at the walking map of London as an idea to inspire our project.
In today’s session our aim was to analyse and sift through our research and data collected in the previous week. Our research mainly involved multiple interviews at various points around campus with the bid to cast a wide net over the number of transport methods available to students. We spoke to bus riders, cyclists, walkers and drivers and found that people generally mix these different methods depending on circumstance or environments. For example, one interviewee stated that they would only cycle or walk if the weather was dry and another said they would only walk to a lecture and not from one.
Our research became even more interesting once we began the process of analysing thematically. Each group member had a time limit of three minutes to convey what they had uncovered, while the remaining group members wrote short post-it notes of information they felt were important. The result from this process helped us develop the ability to focus on what was important and to narrow down our potential design space.
Here are our post-its and the groups that we put them into:
We thematically organised our notes and they resulted in the following themes:
This form of qualitative research has been beneficial by allowing us to identify common patterns and to assign possible meaning to results. We also found that a number of our findings overlapped, this was crucial in identifying a common problem.
As mentioned in a previous post and in a recent interview: ‘Sometimes the people who live closer to UWE have more of a problem; these are the people who struggle with the use of public transport at peak times.’
We found that a number of the people we interviewed often walked to the next stop if the bus was late or had a substantial waiting time. I believe there is interesting psychological motivation behind doing this. Why walk when you’ll be waiting the same amount of time? Maybe the reason is the illusion of doing something instead of nothing? Or maybe there is similar resulting feeling here to those who said they felt ‘great/healthy/proud/awake’ after cycling or walking to university.
Another common problem was that buses were unreliable and this is why many often decide to walk or cycle instead, especially when a number of full buses drive past before a 9am.
To conclude, it’s clear and ironic that the main annoyances are experienced by those who live closer to UWE. Although common bus related angst exist through the whole route, it is sensible to assume from our research that buses are not fun, uncontrollably and frustratingly unreliable, slower than cycling and not a great way to start your day.
As a result our plan is to encourage students to walk, even if it’s only to the next bus shelter, that 5 minutes could create enough pride and motivation to persuade more walking – increasing physical activity and reducing carbon foot prints. This therefore is our design space.
In an interview with 2nd year UWE student who commutes regularly via bus, we discussed a familiar issue regarding busses at full capacity and the problems it may be causing people living in certain areas of Bristol. In their case the route being effected is the 71 ‘First’ bus service running from the city centre up through Gloucester Road and Filton Avenue. They also explained that this problem occurs only during peak times between 8 and 9 am for morning lectures.
Rather than focusing on the busy inconveniences during these peak times, they spoke more interestingly about how rider congestion may be affecting people differently along the route, depending on which stop they would be waiting. They noticed that some stops later up the line where being missed completely by busses at maximum capacity, in turn affect students schedule in getting to their lectures on time. For my interviewees situation, living closer to the city centre allows them to secure a place before the bus fills up.
We conducted research on UWE’s strategies and policies regarding the First and Wessex Bus services along with the existing infrastructure available. Here are our findings:
UWE Policies and Strategies:
- UWE supply TravelWest information all over their website.
- They often have First at Wessex Buses stalls at UWE
- It gives notice on the website of any changes to buses or there routes and the date that it changes.
- Advertise tickets for long term bus tickets on the website
- Try to offer the most different routes possible so people can get lots of places.
- Buses that run late at night still stop at UWE for students, also for safety.
Existing infrastructures that exist for UWE Buses:
- They have a live timetable board at the UWE bus station for live updates.
- An info point at the bus stop to ask questions about travel
- You can get the timetable leaflets at UWE
- Leaflets are provided when you start living in halls.
- Links from UWE website in the transport sections for more information from the bus companies themselves.
A common problem that seemed to arise whilst interviewing people is that the information given on the high-tech information systems – such as mobile apps – are extremely unreliable.
One interviewee stated that the live bus times displayed on many mobile apps deviated from the actual ‘real-world’ departure times specified on printed bus timetables. This as a consequence caused him on many occasions to either miss the bus or to be waiting around for a long while.
This meant his route to UWE was very stressful – sometimes he was running to catch a bus that wasn’t meant to leave for another 5 minutes, other times he was waiting around for a bus that was “due” for 15 minutes.
Because of this, he tended to ride his bike to university. And although he has an alternative mode of transport, he still finds it confusing and frustrating as to why the live bus times aren’t actually “live”.
Many other people have also expressed their disappointment with the apps such as Bus Checker and Moovit, and they tended to refer back to high-tech systems as well as low-tech information systems, such as the printed bus timetables online or at the bus stop. However this completely defeats the objectives of the apps which is to make a person’s life more simple. The low-tech systems are also unreliable at peak times of the day, due to congestion, however people have found that at the less busier times they tend to trust the low-tech systems more than the high-tech ones.
We found it interesting how even in this day and age, people still tend to trust low-tech printed information systems more than the high-tech systems in place which are supposedly more reliable.
Today we took some interviews while at the bus stop. The information that we collated was interesting but the general opinion was that bus’s need to be more frequent and on time.
As the image below shows there were a lot of people queuing for 1 bus. This meant that the bus probably departed late and it is possible that not everyone may have got on. Another problem with UWE bus’s that we noted in our research is that sometimes you may queue for a bus yet they are sometimes too full and that means you can’t get on and are late.
The journey map above shows the journey of one of the interviewees by bus. The journey by bus is 3.8 miles. It starts at the Nevil Road bus stop, going up Gloucester Road and then onto Filton Avenue. The bus turns right onto Station Road, before going through a residential area to get to UWE.
Below is a map showing a car driver who also walks. This interviewee’s journey covers 2.4miles (15-25mins at peak) and parks off campus, then walks a further 0.8miles (10-12mins) to university.