Year III: Auckland Transport Project Week One

Back at it! 

Round Three: Industrial Design vs Meliza Deocales

First Mission: Enhance rail travel user experience in the Auckland region to achieve an increase in patronage

Allies: Rob Mayo an international service design and service marketing specialist, Anthony Cross of Auckland Transport, Helen Cunningham, Charlotte Dickson and Year Three Co.

Time Limit: 37 days, 33 days left

With the gears and grinds of my good ol’ brain working, getting stuck in the early stages of the design process had been no problem. We arranged ourselves in groups of three and visited the network twice in two days and have gained plenty of insights along with the survey and interview that we conducted.

The problems and their immediate possible solutions all stood out like a sore thumb. There are many things that could be done better and most if not all have to do with their delivery to patrons. Signage is unclear, inconsistent and counter intuitive; for example the yellow tactile buttons are inconsistently used as a warning or an aid to those visually impaired. Helpful information is not delivered well; for example a train’s arrival can go unnoticed as there are no immediate sensory cues unless looking at the direction of where the train should be coming from.

To summarise, there are absolutely good intentions behind each aspect found in the network but most if not all can be done better; delivered simpler and clearer.

Other users who may encounter different situations when travelling by Auckland rail to their destinations were not very well catered for. Users such as mobility, visually and audio impaired individuals, foreigners who lack a good command of the English language, the elderly who may be greatly unfamiliar with technology. The information about what to do in emergency cases is text based, which is not ideal as no one would have the time to read through a barrier of words as they panic for their lives.

I acknowledge that because these problems are concrete, it will be harder to approach the problem and offer a solution that is truly original or at least dissimilar to the rest of the class. I also realise that solving these immediate problems only better the rail travel experience for existing patrons which is all well and good but to really encourage an increase in patronage is a far different story.

The biggest rail patrons now are commuters and still should be even after an increase in patronage. Where do we get these patrons? Where else, but from the cause of our congested main arterial roads (especially during peak hours) that prefer their comfort and privacy of their own car? What is a good incentive for the rest of Auckland to join this up and coming band wagon that is rail travel?

I think there is merit in a solution that can be born out of this.

Sorting through the massive collection data we had as a group in a methodical manner helped me define the opportunity areas that interest me. In-depth discussions with my team members quickly triggered ideas that I can be excited about.

I will not only aim to think globally and act locally but hope to create a solution that is transferrable to overseas systems. Since the immediate problems are solvable with practical solutions, I will encourage myself to pursue left-of-field ideas as that may trigger more unique solutions that I can then harness to create a simple and beautiful solution. ­­

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