One app to rule them all: Citymapper and the adventure of a ticket bundle.

Citymapper is a public transport application and mapping service which displays transport options between any two locations in a supported city. It’s recognizable for its accuracy when it comes to live timing and suggestion of effective routes.

The problem as specified in Ironhack Challange description:

The main competitors of Citymapper are Transit (app) and Moovit both offering similar features when it comes to planning, monitoring, and orienting oneself throughout the transit. In that, they all remain more sophisticated and reliable versions of GoogleMaps.

This brought me to a question — Who actually needs those multiple tickets bundles?

  • Users, even those skeptic toward technology would prefer it to alternative solutions if it would offer them an effortless automatized solution to avoid the complexity of public transport. The used expressions vary from “contactless” and “invisible” to “natural”. One of the users challenged his own reluctance with the BVG ticket app and found it much easier than machines in the subway to his own surprise.
  • Users as tourists will rather trust their luck than go through the indignity of figuring out how to buy a ticket in a foreign country.
  • One of my subjects instructed me on how to forge a printed BVG ticket. Which is actually a serious criminal offense in Germany. By this point the question “is it a bug or is it a feature?” morphed into “One’s bug is someone else’s feature” but I will pursue this line of research on some other occasion. It illustrates how unwilling the users are to learn a new UI of public transport.
  • The two main impediments to use public transport as opposed to car, bike or walking were high price of the tickets and the unnecessarily complicated system of purchase. Users stressed it was confusing and they never know if they bought the right ticket.
  • Confusion in front of the overly complex and unknown system additionally heightens the anxiety felt in a new city. Users want to avoid feeling ignorant and getting in trouble with authorities.

Users need is an essentially care-less way of paying for the transport service. By care -less I understand a way of managing ticket purchases in a way that they don’t have to consciously think about it. Ideal public transport is one paid from taxes by the state hence paid but in an “invisible” way. Interviews showed means that users see convenience as more important than the price which resonates with the McKinsey report.

Based on those insights I came up with a few ideas:

  1. Mini — local solutions build around existing infrastructure in each city alternating between forms of the tickets but always taking the pricing feature of the app as a point of departure and generating virtual debit, virtual version of the timed ticket with QR etc.
  2. Midi — a little more universal solution

I chose the virtual card solution as the most versatile when it comes to covering multiple types of access and control.

  • Virtual card added to Apple Wallet or Google Wallet will work via debit in case of a restricted access system (tube in London) operating via contactless card readers.
  • At the same time, every ticket activation is recorded in the ticket wallet with its unique QR code to form proof of purchase.
  • The amount on the virtual card is determined on the “best price” native citymapper algorithm filter and cross-checked with owned long-term tickets to get the best deal and billed to users credit card.
  • As the basis, virtual card can be adapted per city to different systems via integration with transit authorities systems and get better deals.
  1. Addition of another button on the starting page

I would never think one can be afraid of being harassed by ticket controllers. That one came as quite a surprise.

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