BRIEF

“To increase ridership by improving the bus seat experience”

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Research

To start off the project, I spent 2 weeks observing — relying on Auckland Transport (AT) instead of my car, looking at what other countries have done, and talking to people about their public transport experience.

I created personas and mapped the user journey based on the discussions I had with 20 individuals. I discovered a need for information about the bus route & service changes.

AT was changing to a new network, and many passengers were not well-informed, leading to confusion and frustration.

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AT wanted a tangible product, placed in the bus seat environment. That meant the solution had to be and easy to produce, install, and maintain on a massive scale.

For sustainability, I aimed to make the product out of recycled & recyclable materials, and build upon the current bus seat environment.

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Multipurpose

The initial obvious solution would be dispensing map flyers or having an in-bus magazine. I then considered how to make the physical information medium useful for passengers, perhaps folding the flyer into a paper wallet.

Looking back at the observations I made, I realised that people generally put their bags on their lap or on the floor, making it clunkier to exit when you have multiple bags, as a lot of school children and parents do.

 
 

So then I thought about putting the information on bags instead, and explored how I could:

  1. Create a bag that is useful, easy to mass produce, recycled, and recyclable

  2. Place said bag in the immediate bus seat environment

I prototyped different bag styles and attachment methods — installing a little rack or a knob, for example.

I also researched into materials, and decided to use recycled plastic* and paper bags from Innocent Packaging as it would be far more cost-effective for AT to mass produce.

*the prototype was 3D printed with virgin ABS

Refinements

The core aspect of the bag was the information on it, which I categorised into:

  • new route information

  • tourism promotion (e.g: use X bus to go to the museum)

  • public service announcements (e.g: strikes)

  • and paid advertisements that may contain samples, providing AT with extra revenue and exciting passengers

As passengers reused the bag, they would naturally advertise the campaign, and so the hashtag #bagstheseat was born.

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But how feasible is this?

The beauty of #bagstheseat is that AT can choose how many bags to print easily — it doesn’t have to be on every seat for every journey.

Additionally, the element of surprise could be used as an encouragement to bus more, increasing ridership.

Future steps

AT loved the campaign and the concept, however sponsored student projects are designed to help students understand what working with a client’s needs are like.

It looks like they’ve taken bits on board, so maybe in the near future we’ll get bag hooks and a free goodie bag on the bus!


On a sidenote, I would have loved to explore ways to make an even more paper efficient bag, perhaps laser cut handles?

I’m unsure whether the energy to cut them all out is worth, and if the leftovers can be made into bags, but it’s a thought.