The Promenade is a pedestrian mall and transportation hub where the Metro Rail and the Big Blue Bus system meet. Due to COVID-19 there is a communication gap between elderly passengers and the bus. They have difficulty communicating with bus drivers and accessing information without the use of a smart phone.
Older Santa Monica residents (55+) are frequent bus riders, but the inconsistent enforcement of COVID-19 mandates adds anxiety and uncertainty to their trips. COVID regulations make it hard for passengers to communicate with drivers. They tend to rely on posted signs for navigation instead of smartphones.
The Wayve travel information kiosk displaying a map of stop-specific bus information, so older passengers at the stop can easily see approaching buses, arrival status, and crowd information. Wayve also allows passengers to request disability access to a bus, and speak to remote representatives. Passengers will interact with Wayve at the bus stop through a gesture controlled interface. They might use it to ask for help finding a transfer or use the kiosk to see real-time, up-to-date information about approaching buses. Wayve eases the communication gaps caused by COVID mandates allowing older riders to access the information they need with a touchless interface.
How Might We help seniors stay informed & safe during COVID-19 when using the Big Blue Bus at the Santa Monica Promenade?
They don't communicate with the bus driver getting onto the bus and the bus driver is separated by a barrier.
Person left behind by a bus driver and didn’t understand why. Several other people we talked to had similar experiences.
Inconsistent enforcement of COVID-19 mandates adds anxiety and uncertainty to trips.
Many users were concerned about COVID exposure while riding the bus. Riders are frustrated by the communication gaps COVID-19 mandates presented. The elderly users we talked to didn’t use their phones for navigation.
"I don’t know if everyone who has gotten on the bus is wearing a mask. I worry if someone coughed on the bus and then I got on."
"Some bus drivers don't even stop. Yesterday when I wanted to get on the bus I waved at the bus and it didn't stop for me."
"My phone is not good, it can't do that."
The relationship between passengers and operators has changed because of COVID-19 regulations. Passengers lack communication with bus operators leaves both parties frustrated.
"Face-to-face interaction is now pretty much nonexistent. We pick up without any eye or verbal contact and it’s taken away a lot of the “soul” of the job."
Elderly populations lose their ability to drive, public transit becomes a lifeline.
Alternatives to public transit are economically prohibitive, so age friendly transit is important.
The eldery are at risk for isolation and social exclusion. That is even more pronounced during COVID.
Before we came up with the Wayve concept, we looked into the systems that currently exist to help the people move around Santa Monica.
Digital signs that show bus route and arrival times.
Call for up-to-date bus information based on Stop ID.
A way for elderly to use Lyft & Uber as well as get food and groceries delivered.
On-demand transport to the elderly (65 +) and disabled (18+)
BBB’s official app for trip planning and real-time bus information.
Google’s web mapping service that offers real-time traffic conditions and transportation information.
The inconsistent enforcement of COVID mandates adds anxiety and uncertainty to the trips of senior travelers.
COVID regulations have created a communication gap leaving both riders and drivers frustrated.
Senior passengers rely on posted schedules to find updated information because they typically do not use smartphones to navigate.
Many seniors depend on public transit, especially those who are low-income and isolated.
Lydia feels uncertain about her trip and must stay vigilant to feel secure before getting to her destination.
Lydia is informed at the bus stop so she can travel confidently and independently.
We prototyped Wayve using an oversized cardboard box and paper to mimic the experience for the user.
Wayve is a publicly accessible, interactive kiosk with stop-specific bus information. Wayve is a Kiosk because users need access to this information even without a smartphone.
Elderly users need access to this information even without a smartphone. Changes in vision and motor control make small screens impractical.
The Kiosk allows older adults to see information on larger screens. The font size is larger and higher contrast to accommodate vision loss that occurs with older age.
Users can see stop-specific bus information including:
Seat Sensors are used to gather real-time crowd information. Enough pressure on the seat will send a signal to Wayve.
The information helps users understand:
Users can also ask navigation questions or get general help through a video call with a remote assistant using a dial-in number. This allows users to hear and be heard in noisy environments.
Users can communicate with Wavye in both Spanish and English.
Any dialogue is captioned on screen and ASL interpreters are available upon request
Touch-based systems are unsafe due to COVID-19 and noise levels at bus stops make voice activated systems prohibitive.
Gesture control solves these problems.
Wayve utilizes a finite set of common gestures accompanied by text-based instructions.
Older adults continue to be independent even during the pandemic where communication and access to the bus are less reliable. For many older adults, the bus is their only option for transportation. Although older adults are less inclined to smartphone use. They are still capable of learning technology if it's designed with them in mind. Repetition, simple instructions, mental models, and legible UI help adults older adults acclimate themselves into a system. If they need assistance Wayve provides it for them. We used simple gestures and numbers so it is easy for the user to catch on.
Although, if I were to continue to explore I would further my learning in accessible technology. I recognize that it is important to consider that some older adults have arthritis and might not be able to gesture the symbols. I would examine nonverbal communication methods.
2022 Vianey Garcia| created with Webflow and Freepik