I am a user experience designer with experience designing, developing and leading the creation of software products. I am seeking an opportunity to work with a team that is passionate about building great technology products.

BMTC Bus Usage by the Blind: Mapping the User Journey

So there’s been quite a bit of development on the BMTC (Bangalore’s Intracity Bus System) project we’re doing for the improving accessibility for the visually challenged. First up we have been joined by a colleague and a friend, Anupriya. Another colleague has shown interest in the work and might start working with us soon. We spent some time observing, interviewing and interacting with people at the National Association for the Blind at Bangalore. We had a few discussions about the project at the (famous CDG) coffee table and came up with some very interesting ideas. I’ll share all of these in due course of time.

Today we had a meta level discussion about where this project was headed and decided on a way to prioritize our learnings and ideas. We started with discussing what our aim was with this project.

Aim:

To improve the accessibility of the BMTC system for the visually challenged.
Next we mapped the user journey in using a BMTC bus and the various problems that might come up at each stage.

User Journey

1.      Reaching the Bus Stop

a.       If he knows where the bus stop is, how does he find his way to the place?

b.       If he doesn’t, ie if he is travelling from an unfamiliar location in the city, how does he find out where the appropriate bus stop is?

2.      Route Number

a.       Now having reached the stop, what if the user doesn’t know the route number of the bus that’ll take him to a particular location, how does he find it out?

b.       What if he knows only one of more than one route numbers that go to his desired destination? How does he find out? (also how can we help him find out)

3.      Bus Arrival

a.       How does he know that the bus he is waiting for has come?

b.       How does he know where the bus is with reference to his present location?

c.       Another point here is that the blind have free travel on all busses except Volvos, so how does he know if the bus that has stopped in front of him is a Volvo or some other bus?

4.      Getting on the Bus

a.       Locating the Door: There are various bus types in Bangalore. All of them don’t have the doors in the same place. How does a visually challenged user find the door?

b.       Locating the rails

c.       Finding a place to stand/sit

5.      Buying a Ticket

a.       Might happen on a Volvo

b.       On other busses it might be showing the conductor a pass or a certificate of some sort.

6.      Getting a Seat

a.       How does he know which seat is free?

b.       What if a seat becomes empty after a while, how does he find out?

7.      Bus Journey

a.       Sudden Braking: My brother and I had this experience recently, that we were stand up front and the guy jammed the break suddenly. We were both hurled forward suddenly but managed to grab onto a support bar and avoid banging straight into the windshield. What happens for a blind person? They probably won’t even be able to make out where the support bars are. This is a problem particularly with the new Volvo and Marcopolo busses because they travel at high speeds and have very powerful brakes.

b.       Closing a window if it starts to rain.

8.      Preparing to get down

a.       How does he know that he is close to his destination?

b.       How does he find the door?

c.       How does he navigate in case the bus is crowded?

9.      Getting Down

a.       How does he know where he has got down with respect to the bus stop? A lot of times the busses stop ahead or short of the bus stop.

b.       What happens when the driver stops in the middle of the road instead of at the edge near the stop? How does he navigate? This was a problem that was pointed out by one of our interview subjects. He spoke of a time when he disembarked and suddenly found that traffic on both sides of him was moving.

c.       What if he gets down at the wrong stop? How does he reach the right place? We imagine this would be especially difficult when he gets off ahead of his destination and then has to catch a bus backward. In this case he would have to cross the road and find a bus stop on the other side.

10. Reaching destination from stop

a.       How does the he get to his destination from the bus stop?

We understand that today a lot of these steps are carried out with the help of the general public. The point of mapping out this user journey is to get a holistic understanding of the users’ present way of navigating and the pain points. We wish to understand the difficulty and criticality of each step so we can focus our ideation effort at the right places.

That’s all for now. I will be posting an update on our research findings soon.

4 thoughts on “BMTC Bus Usage by the Blind: Mapping the User Journey”

  1. Ranjith
     ·  Reply

    Nice seeing such enthusiasm from you all … keep going 🙂

  2. Ishan Bhalla
     ·  Reply

    Thanks man! 🙂

  3. Robert_Skrobe
     ·  Reply

    Hi Ishan,Arun Martin forwarded me your article. Very interesting.At the time you were doing a high-level discussion about the project, did you indicate which parts of the User Journey could be helped by technology, and which ones were primarily dependent on others to help?FYI, for the bus lines in Seattle, the bus drivers tell blind patrons what bus number it is, and ask them if they need assistance (but most usually don’t).

  4. Ishan Bhalla
     ·  Reply

    Thanks for the comment Robert.We haven’t looked at that angle yet. Our initial effort was to understand the pain points in the user journey. I have just posted an interim research report today. http://lukwhostalking.com/research-report-studying-the-accessibility-ofAs you will see, the biggest problem is one of driver discipline and I think there the problem is a lack of awareness not a lack of consideration on the part of the drivers. Having said that,we still have a long way to go before this research is over and we will at some point look at how and where technology can be used to help the blind commuter.

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