Transit is complex and customers expect more

August 30, 2017


Transit systems across the globe are notoriously confusing and complex; even for the insiders, the people who work there.

From a commuters (consumers) point of view the confusion and rants can be heard on the streets, on the platform, on the train or if you listen closely enough you can hear the screams from within houses as they look for updates on their phones and computers. This is because they just want a service that is designed to work. And by work we mean providing a ‘great experience’ at all the customer touch points and the physical transit service.

If you look, it won’t take you long, you will find numerous websites, blogs and twitter accounts of consumers that document every delay or issue they have with a particular service.

One of the reasons they may do this is that they cannot find the information informing them of delays or disruptions and if the information there it is late and often inaccurate. Even if the ‘when does the next bus arrive’ feature is out by a couple of minutes we hear the tuts and moans. Yes, these are first world problems but can often lead to a domino effect on a multiple operator journey.

Have a read of Dominic Hutton’s blog – a UK Commuter that was so disgruntled with delays that he wrote 98 letters over 9 months –starting in June 2011, to the MD of Great Western Railway in the UK. There is some great writing, and often he got responses. He even managed to write a book about it and appear numerous times on TV, providing the disgruntled commuters voice.

  • gwrletter

The problem is not new, and it is not going away.

Commuter journeys often span a mix of transit types, often provided by different providers. Granted, this is complex when ticket revenue needs to be split and tickets should work across the whole network.

But, the customer does not care!

Many commuters often turn to each other for help, with commuter groups communicating whether the service is on time or late etc. – this information is delivered much quicker than ‘official’ updates and because it is coming from like-minded commuters and friends, it is much more of a trusted resource.

With the mass of data and information that is readily available, surely it is a case of figuring out what is important, this may vary by use case, and then delivering that in a timely manner to inform and to advise.

We have come across the work of Gobot in New York that, in summary, the AI deciphers long pieces of text, official updates and customer updates and then spits them out in a way that explains is back to humans – us customers.

  • gobot

The natural language processing that Gobot applies understands disruption messages and turns them from corporate gobbledegook into something that is meaning full. 

Have a read – it is pretty inspiring stuff.

It is difficult to make things simple, but this complexity is the obstacle that is in the way and we need to go through it.

Here at FCV, we try and make sense of the issues around the Service Design and create great experiences that are routed in research, UX and technical expertise.

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