Are you really a Philadelphian if you haven’t been frustrated by the public transportation here at some point in your life? The Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority, or SEPTA, services Pennsylvanians through the region with 5 different methods of transportation. 5 different methods of transportation and 1 big problem. Not only are the routes, schedules, and trains themselves in need of an upgrade, but it’s also difficult to navigate the site and mobile application. So, I’ve proposed a list of different improvements, as a user, I would love to see implemented at SEPTA.
UX Design doesn’t just start with digital. Everything around us is an experience. We could start by examining how SEPTA could implement human-centered design into their trains. Let’s think of some pain points for your SEPTA rider (both frequent and infrequent). For infrequent riders, the option to buy tickets on the train using a credit card or your phone would speed up the process and provide convenience for a digitally-innovative future. By using this tactic, SEPTA can also have access to users’ data to provide more accurate schedules and anticipate heavier rushes. Even planning future routes.
Another way human-centered design could lead to a better user experience and help SEPTA become more inclusive would be to implement more real-time screens on every mode of transportation. Implementing these designs in every aspect of SEPTA’s business could help deaf or hard of hearing people. Providing a real-time map that shows the next stop or destination would eliminate a massive pain point for a lot of users.
Now we can get into the nitty gritty of SEPTA’s digital presence. The mobile app has been examined and BETA tested from the moment it debuted. A few pain points I recognize as both a user and a digital marketer are more to do with design and functionality. You’ll see here in this screenshot the important features for the app are hiding in a sliding
tab. Utilizing one of Don Norman’s Design Principles, visibility; I would either change the icon to better indicate a sliding tab or group these features with the account tab at the top right. The function of more options to pay or reload your card isn’t immediately visible or known to the user.
Now don’t get me wrong, SEPTA has improved their app and site significantly since I first began using it. They’ve added the auto-reload and “Add to Travel wallet” functions to allow users to pay fares quicker. (of course, the reload still may take up to 24 hours to process).
They have, also, begun BETA testing for a “Preferred method of travel” option (bus, train, subway, trolley). This was originally going to live in my mobile app corrections section. However, after combing through it, I found what I was looking for. SEPTA was way ahead of me.
Photo compliments of WHYY.org
Sasko, Claire. “You Can Now Use the SEPTA App to Add Money to Your Key Card.” Philadelphia Magazine, Philadelphia Magazine, 14 Aug. 2019, https://www.phillymag.com/news/2019/08/14/septa-app-key-card-phone/
Source: Preece, J., Rogers, Y., Sharp, H. (2002), Interaction Design: Beyond Human-Computer Interaction, New York: Wiley, p.21