How did you address these flaws?
We went on various bus rides, and along the way we talked to passengers, drivers, bus-terminal-system operators and as many people we could meet across the entire system.
Their inputs were all captured in verbatim, scribbles, sketches, images and video that we mapped into a huge overview in the sequential flow of a bus ride, end-to-end. It produced a very rich picture of the total activity; we felt like we were following the bus route in a helicopter at 30,000 feet, and yet were able to zoom in whenever we want. At the same time, we reached out to our global network to look into bus-service systems all over the world, to ensure we were not reinventing a problem, and learn from other similar situations that would enrich our potential solution. The view we created with the experience flow tool provided the basis for us to really dive deep and start creating ideas.
Where did the inspiration come from?
Looking at how we use smart phones today, drawing parallels with GPRS (General Packet Radio Service), it's clear we don’t do much planning in our lives and yet we can be very responsive spontaneously to the world around us. The relationship of time and space has changed, where it requires us to plan less but yet enable us to be efficient and effective in real time.
What other products designs – not necessarily related – influenced your redesign?
Data visualisation formed a part of the influence. Most of us are visual learners – in a world where people are too busy, a concise, straight-to-the-point image and graphics is exactly what we need to get the information we need in as little time as possible… especially when it is about how to get to where we want to go.
What was the most challenging part of the process?
The design part is relatively easy, as we are free from logistical constraints. We anticipate the most challenging part is influencing a bus-service provider and its stakeholders to adopt such an approach. It requires a change in behaviour on the part of the passengers, and definitely the way a bus-service provider organises its operations.
How radically do your changes alter the design?
By dropping the bus stops out of the equation, we have completely turned the fixed-route approach upside down. Our concept disrupts the robotic regularity of a fixed-route service, perhaps creating new social situations and hopefully reducing carbon footprints in the urban-scape.
How easy will this be to produce?
This will require quite some infrastructure change, and more importantly a mind-set change.
What new technologies, if any, would it require?
The IT architecture behind this system will have to be extremely robust, plus an app system which responds real-time and is able to handle the high volume of real-time feeds.
Will you be taking your design on from here?
This is at concept level, it needs to be taken to a next level of detail to map out total architecture that will support it, but that will require the involvement of all stakeholders.
We are excited by what we have proposed and may reach out to bus-service providers, city planners and policy-making institutions to generate interest.
What has this process taught you?
As with every design activity, to keep an open mind and be ready to change course if it makes sense. We started with the bus stop but ended up with redesigning the bus-service system, which was totally unexpected, but it was because we allowed ourselves to reframe the problem.