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Design Challenge (7): Singapore's MyTransport App

posted Mar 22, 2017, 9:25 PM by Ratinan Lee   [ updated Mar 26, 2017, 9:33 AM ]
Singapore is very good, of course, in many aspects. BUT, its MyTransport application sucks, in my opinion. Here is the main menu. You can see that they include everything about transportation but most of us need only a few. You think about your own use. If you don't have your own car you won't need ERP, traffic camera, COE, parking guide. If you won't ride MRT or buses, you won't need bus arrival time, bus services, MRT/LRT map, find-my-way (for emergency cases).

Hence, the app can be made simpler by splitting up into several more apps. The best thing here is that the Taxi-Taxi@SG is a link for downloading another app. But is it needed to be there? People who use taxi should be informed to download the app at the taxi stands or taxi's websites like CDG's.

And moreover, why do they need to provide weather information? The PSI may not be really needed but the weather and temperature are both provided by the operating system. You don't even have to unlock the phone to get the forecast, why does the app need to offer this piece of information?

Here is my new design, much simpler:

Illustration 01 Main Menu

Only public transports are here in this application. For those who do not own their own car, they do not need to scroll or swipe to find what they want. And for those who own cars also, they do not need to see the public transport icons in their apps. For those who need both, they can download both. The principle of designing anything, according to Google, is "simplicity", that's why we need the application like this. And in order to make it better, if the user already allows the app to access GPS information, the application can retrieve current traffic condition and show it on the main page.

Why did I come up with this design?

HTA (Hierarchical Task Analysis)

This is what HCI (Human-Computer Interaction) students must have already done. The first thing I want to see when I launch the transportation app is what I need to know. Most likely what the user wants to know is how to get from there to somewhere else! Hence, the information of the incoming buses or trains to the nearest point of departure (bus stops or MRT stations) must be shown.

Illustration 02 Arrival Time and Bus Routes

Arrival Time
With JSON data structure and fast Internet connection, we could make a good API that tells users the accurate estimated arrival times of all transportation modes nearby. Imagine when you need to go somewhere urgently, you don't have much time to press so many buttons to get to what you want to see. The user can press more buttons if they do not require default information, that's why the "View Map" button and search box are there at the bottom. After the click on a map or the search, the screen should show the same thing for the new location selected.

Bus Routes
This must be a simple page with useful information. The current bus routes page in MyTransport@SG application only shows the list of bus service numbers and, when selected, the list of stops. This is not useful for those who don't know the area, especially the block numbers. How could I know where Blk 195E is? Is Blk 298 close to my Blk? Hence, the sketch of the route must be available with some of the points of interests and rivers. The list of bus stops should also be there. And to make it great, the user should be able to track their location also! Smart apps should know the estimated current location of the phone and highlight the next stop and the location on the map in the app here on this page.

Illustration 03 MRT/LRT

The current application does not provide an option to search for the stations. If you are a foreigner migrating to Singapore, you have to search using only your own eyes for your origin and destination. So, the only thing that is needed here must be the search feature, so people does not need to find it if they don't know the exact position of the station.

Moreover, if you conduct HTA, you would surely know that people don't like to scroll endlessly for specific information. The most important information should be shown on the first page, e.g. the estimated time needed for the journey, the price for most common fare types, and well, station maps, exits, and other station-related information should be in the separated page dedicated for the station.

Illustration 04 Journey Planner

Journey Planner
A journey planner should cover all modes of public transportation, the same way as how Google Maps does. Well, the MyTransport application does not. That's the problem.

The best thing is that the user SHOULD be able to search for the exact location and the application calculates which MRT station or bus stop the user has to alight. The alternative way is to let the user search for the final bus stop or MRT station. Anyway, the user may not know the nearest bus stop or station.

Illustration 05 Emergency

In the case of MRT breakdown, what would you like to know the most? Well. The alternative way to get to your destination, right? The "Find-My-Way" section in the current application is, to me, not a good design at all. First, what is "Find-My-Way"? When reading it, I thought it was something similar to Journey Planner. But since there is a journey planner button nearby, what is Find-My-Way? Oh, well, It's for the emergency!

Then why doesn't the app say "Emergency" or "Alternative Routes" or any other meaningful words?

About the feature. The Emergency feature should report the current MRT conditions. Delay? Break down? And well, if it's the break down, it should also report the FREE BUS TRANSFER AVAILABLE, the bus numbers. Finally, it should also check the the nearest station so it can fill in the origin box. The user can fill in the destination and let it search for the alternative routes that does not require MRT.