Every year, Skånetrafiken provides 159 million trips by bus and train throughout the southern region of Sweden (known as Scania), to Gothenburg and Kalmar, and even into Copenhagen and the east coast of Denmark. 250,000 people rely on Skånetrafiken daily to get to work, pick up the kids from day care, run errands, and explore the different things the region has to offer.
Skånetrafiken’s goal is to create better travel experiences and to be a reliable transportation option, ultimately providing people with a good reason to choose public transport over cars. They also aim to double the number of annual trips from 2006 to 2020. This is a huge and complex challenge that needs integrated solutions and can’t just be solved with improvements in infrastructure, adding more buses and trains and make them run more frequently. The willingness and desire for people to travel depends not only on infrastructure but of cost of travelling (both with public transport and alternatives), political decisions, options available etc.
To tackle these issues we collaborated with Skånetrafiken to imagine the digital future of travel and set the foundation of a new mobile application that meets the needs of users today and in the future. The digital tools plays a key part in the experience in travelling with Skånetrafiken and the mobile application needs to support the traveller before, during and after travelling. The app also includes improvement of accessibility to their service through digital touch points.
Skånetrafiken and ustwo, together again
The partnership with Skånetrafiken has been ongoing for some time and the new app isn’t the first time we’ve partnered with them. The first project took place a few years ago with a concept exploring what travelling with Skånetrafiken 2030 could look like. We have also participated in a design challenge to solve “the unknown trip” for first time travellers and last year we proposed a design experience as part of a commercial procurement for the new ticketing machines.
With so many things going on in their organisation, Skånetrafiken wanted to try something a little different for the new product. They decided to set up a physical space integrating the project with the end users which lead to the creation of Skånetrafikens Utvecklingscenter, also known as ‘The Lab’. Conveniently located in the Malmö central station building, it puts the team in the middle of the travel context and gives us easy access to the end users: travellers. This setup helped encourage the overall approach of our work: serving the end user and truly improving their travel experience.
Understanding challenges and how to solve them
Today, Skånetrafiken does have a responsive website and a mobile application, but the mobile application has become outdated and is in need of a update in order to lay the foundation for future improvements.
We joined Skånetrafiken to work with them and their teams focusing on other digital touchpoints for their service, including ticketing and personal user accounts. Together, we started iterating on creating a better digital product where our role was to heavily contribute to product design and take responsibility for the interaction and visual design of the mobile application.
Our research identified three main scenarios to focus on in order to improve travel experience, better serve the public, and ultimately encourage more people to use public transportation.
- Commuting – Recurring trips between two known locations. In this scenario, optimization is key.
- The unknown trip – A one-time trip to an unknown destination where “handholding” is needed throughout the journey.
- Traffic disruptions – When the travel situation has changed and transportation is not working as expected we need to provide helpful information and problem-solving support.
Using a lean user-centered process, we iterated our way forward from concept to product, involving the user at every step and keeping the goal of making them travel with public transit more.
In the team, we quickly realized that although we can learn a lot from user testing, in order to really prove our assumptions, we had to give users access to our tool in the right context. So, after some months of development, we released a public beta-program allowing users to see how the application performed in real life. Collecting quantitative data as well as traveler feedback in the app helped us make the right decisions on how to develop the app going forward.
Current functionality and future plans
The new Skånetrafiken app is now available to the public for download. It includes basic functionality allowing the traveler to search and track a journey, as well as buy single tickets, and access a monthly pre-paid travel “card”, a feature long requested by a lot of travelers. Other improvements are better access to maps, the possibility to save favourite destinations and an increased user experience. No matter what additions that will happen to the app, accessibility is always the most important approach and will be considered in all upcoming releases.
This first release lays the foundation of the app and is one of many that will happen over the years until 2020. During that time, this app will coexist with the current ticketing system and mobile application. The plan is to have fully scaled the functionality of the new app by that time and to finally replace the current one. That gives us plenty of time to gather user feedback, prototype, learn and fail (and learn again), and understand the right things to build in the best way.