Sound Transit Real-Time Arrivals 

A Redesign Project

In 2016 SoundTransit’s Real Time Arrivals app was is need of a significant redesign. The existing app had several usability issues, riders were using 3rd party apps but the data was not always accurate, and, in a very high-tech forward community, an out-of-date, not-usable, clunky app did not reflect well on the transit authority.

But… They also needed a quick win to help bring stakeholders on board to the larger redesign process. 

We created a quick design sprint and testing process that engaged many senior stakeholders, and resulted in a complete app redesign in 2 weeks.



Karyn Zuidinga – Senior Director UX, Strategy & Research


Public Organization

Design Process

1. Comparative Review
We started with a detailed review of both the SoundTransit mobile experience and their closest competitor, OneBusAway. Then we broadened the review to a comparative analysis of similar transit authorities and apps. The aim of this was to identify core issues with the existing app and assess various feasible options for Sound Transit to consider during the Think Tank session.

2. Think Tank
The Think Tank was a co-design session with multiple Sound Transit stakeholders. the aim was to develop consensus about the required features and functionality, surface conflicts in service delivery and the customer (rider) journey, and iterate on various options being considered.

3. Prototype Design
Immediately following the Think Tank the team created a clickable prototype. Since we went into the Think Tank understanding the options we were able to quickly turn around a prototype that reflected the stakeholder requirements.

4. Usability Testing
Prior to the Think Tank, we arranged for usability testing sessions with current riders of the sound transit system. Each session including come contextual inquiry about their current use of the transit system and apps, testing the prototype as well as assessing some design options.

5. Refine  Design
Based on the outcome of the testing, we developed detailed wireframes and mockups of the redesigned app.

Easy to use, just in time information for riders

The real success of this project was our ability to quickly redesign the app in a way that was useful, usable, and with the addition of displaying critical information like whether the info was realtime or not, compelling.

We managed to create a quick win for Sound Transit, helped to improve the service, and showed stakeholders that an app redesign need not be a months long process. We could do it quickly and effectively without compromising on either the rider experience or stakeholder needs.

A balance of collaboration, engagement and user research

This project is an excellent example of creating opportunities for collaboration both within the project team and across the client group, engagement with the broader Sound Transit team as well as their riders and informing design decisions based on user research. 

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