What is PAT track?

PAT track is a real-time tracking application for Port Authority (public) buses in Pittsburgh. The application has a map based interface where the users can view the buses moving (for the selected routes) in real-time. The application is powered by real-time tracking API which is made available by Port Authority and is available on Android OS only.

Why did I choose this app for redesign?

I am currently a graduate student at CMU, Pittsburgh. I regularly use public bus to commute between campus and my home. I use PAT track app to track buses and check their arrival time. The app has a large user base of daily commuters given how reliable the information is. Even though the application is useful, based on my experience, I identified a set of challenges that were a hindrance to the usability of the app. I felt it was worth spending time imagining the ideal experience of an application that is used by people as a part of their daily lives.

My hypothesis of problems that users face with the app

  1. If someone is new to the city or planning to take bus to a new destination, users cannot search for a destination and choose a bus route based on that destination.
  2. ETA shown by the transit apps is not accurate because the updates are not frequent enough. For e.g. the bus might arrive late if it was stuck in traffic or it might arrive early if all the traffic lights on a certain section were green.
  3. Users sometimes have to skip buses during rush hours if they are running at full capacity.
  4. Users need to keep checking the app again and again while waiting for a bus since there is no notification mechanism in the app.

Characteristics of an ideal user of the app

  1. Someone who uses public buses on a regular basis.
  2. Someone who owns an Android mobile device.

Customer Discovery

It was now time to validate my problem hypothesis with actual users of the applications. I looked for people whom I did not know and from demographic that was different than mine through my network. The idea was to get unbiased and unique perspectives to the problem statement.

So I prepared a comprehensive research and observation guide for my interviews.

Research and Observation Guide

Insights from the interviews

I created different themes for insights gathered from the interviews and then represented in the form of an affinity diagram.