Cap Metro's Night Out
O V E R V I E W
Capital Metro's Night Out is a service design concept that transforms an unremarkable weekend commute from home to downtown into something worth telling your friends about. "Downtown Adventurers" routinely travel to the heart of the city to enjoy socializing with friends, so why not help them do so more easily, safely, and stylishly than driving?
By focusing on the Downtown Adventurer persona, I was able to propose an experience that has a sustainable advantage over driving, raises the perception of public transit, and capitalizes on the network effect (friends who tell friends who tell friends).
Night Out leverages technology and key partnerships without requiring massive infrastructure changes. It uses Capital Metro's existing touchpoints and equipment, thus minimizing the number of external stakeholders involved.
C H A L L E N G E
Austin, Texas, is a fast-growing city with a growing traffic problem. The greater Austin area covers over 704Km square, yet it has very limited bus coverage, no subway system, and summer temperatures that average over 95 degrees. Compared to San Francisco, Austin covers a wider geographic area yet has significantly less infrastructure. Not surprisingly, most Austinites own cars and drive everywhere. I chose to focus on Austin, partly because it's my hometown, but mostly because it's a typical car-centric US city and solving for it might have broader applications for other cities.
My challenge was to imagine how Capital Metro, Austin's public transportation provider, might encourage more car drivers to ride public transit in order to decrease the city's overall congestion.
D E S I G N R E S E A R C H
After doing in-depth secondary research about urban congestion, traffic reduction schemes, and Austin's public transit system, I had more of a grasp of how complex, political, and multifaceted this problem is. I then conducted phone interviews with 10 Austin residents. Three participants only rode public transit, one participant only drove, and six participants owned cars and used public transit. I had participants photograph their vehicles and any moments along their commute they found to be personally significant.
I was curious about the differences between drivers and public transit riders, what the major issues with public transit in Austin are, and how Austinites perceive Capital Metro and Austin's traffic situation. Through my research, I discovered a type of commuter with potential for a design intervention.
T H E D O W N T O W N A D V E N T U R E R P E R S O N A
Shayna is a 29-year-old professional. She's not married and has no children. Shayna used to live in San Francisco and rode public transit there. When she moved to Austin a few years ago, Shayna bought a house in Crestview. Since she works in Round Rock, Shayna relies on her car to get around.
Shanya loves to go downtown — for concerts, drinks, and dinner a couple of times a week with her girlfriends and coworkers — but hates driving in traffic. Luckily, Shayna lives near Capital Metro's Red Line station, so she takes the train downtown and back.
She loves the Red Line, not only because it's convenient, reliable, but also because it's a relaxing, worry-free way to travel. (She wishes it ran later, and during SXSW it can get overly crowded, but these are minor problems in her view.)
Shayna has tried to convince her friends who live in north Austin to ride with her, but they live farther away from any station, and just aren't that interested in the idea.
E X P E R I E N C E W A L K T H R O U G H
So what is it like to go on a Night Out with Capital Metro? Let's follow Shayna as she and her friends go on their first Night Out. Shayna knows her friends are skeptical that they will have fun on public transit. But this time she knows she can introduce them to an amazing experience.
P R O C E S S
The road to any design solution is full of detours, false starts, dead ends, scenic routes, dark alleys, potholes, and pleasant surprises.
M Y C O N T R I B U T I O N
Service Design Concept
UX + UI Design
Art Direction (3D Render)
Graduate Design at California College of the Arts (CCA)
Advanced 3D + IxD Studio Instructors: Katherine Dill and Caleb Rabinowitz