This is a project that we were assigned in the UX fundamentals course at HackerYou. The task was to solve a transportation problem within Toronto.
Transitter is the final product I had created for this project, which is an inclusive app to help people with dyslexia, people who are colour blind or have no vision, and people with memory difficulties – allowing them to read and/or listen to transit schedules, and be guided to specific locations within stations based on GPS.
Discovering what problem I wanted to solve was the most difficult part for me. There are so many transit problems within Toronto, but I could only choose one. I had a list that kept growing with problems, but none of them felt like a big enough problem in my mind.
My list of transit problems:
Number of green p spots available
App to pay fares on phone
Carpooling app to reduce pollution
Locate carts for claustrophobic users
Bus location when delayed
Until one day a friend of mine reached out to me about needing help at the GO Train station. She had never taken the GO Train before, and was unsure as to what platform her train would be on – surprisingly it doesn't have platform information on the ticket.
Thanks to my friends struggle using the GO Train, I knew I had discovered my big idea. Being a daily GO Train user – this is a problem I took to heart, as I remember being very overwhelmed by the paper GO Train schedules when I first started taking the GO Train years ago.
This discovery opened a can of worms when it comes to GO Train problems. I went around interviewing people to see if they have ever had issues taking the GO Train – and the response was overwhelming.
Most common struggles with new GO Train users:
Confused as to what GO Train line they need to take
The cost of fare between certain stations
What platform the train is to arrive on
How to get to the correct platform
With these results, it really opened my eyes to see how difficult of a task taking the GO Train is for those who don't have any accessible needs. If it is this difficult for them – it must be a stressful task for those who have any sort of disability.
Public transportation frustrations for those with accessible needs:
Dyslexic users have a difficult time reading schedule times within charts
No visual indication on some carts/trains for deaf users
Ticket booths are closed after a certain time, and are closed on weekends
Elevators are out of service often
GO Transit site isn't fully accessible
Assistance isn't available at every station
Because of all these reasons, and more – those who need assistance with public transit choose to avoid it all together to save the stress. They tend to rely on Uber and other taxi services – but for long term use, that is very costly.
The main problems with the GO Train seemed to be how to navigate – navigating within the station to get tickets and to the platforms, and how to navigate from station to station with confidence.
Everything within Transitter was designed in mind of accessibility. From the font-family, font size to the colours used throughout the app. For those with dyslexia, fonts that are slightly rounded help with readability. People with all types of colour blindness are able to see blues and reds most clear compared to any other colours.
Transitter has extra setting preferences for those who want to avoid specific routes when being navigated – with options to avoid stairs when being guided to fare payment, or train platforms, and the option to also be guided to the accessible coach. Another setting that was mentioned as helpful to blind users is phone vibration patterns when being guided
(ie. 1 vibration means walk straight, 2 vibrations means turn right, and 3 means turn left).
As Transitter is only for Go Train users right now, we are expanding to TTC in the near future – Toronto’s subway stations will be first within our roadmap, with TTC busses to follow. We are planning on placing beacons within subway stations, which would send users notifications to their phones as if they’re using data/WIFI.