Product Design: Metro Ticketing System revamped

Harpreet Vishnoi
4 min readApr 2, 2020

This article is based on Artiom’s Product Design Exercise#2.

Photo by Asael Peña on Unsplash

Q: Design a new system that allows a daily user who uses the metro every day or an-out-of-town visitor who will use the metro just once to get access to the metro, on time, without having a physical MetroCard on hand.

Sol:

In order to design something which is already existing. I always start with some basic questions — Why am I designing something which already exists? Are there any problems with existing systems? Maybe the existing system is great but can be made perfect with some additional features?

In order to answer these questions, we need to understand what the user feels about it. Here, user interviews, focus-groups(users brainstorming in a group) or surveys can help.

Here are some pain points which were provided in the question description:

Users Side:

  1. Lost time in waiting in line to buy a metrocard.
  2. Touching a dirty machine for getting a metrocard.
  3. The potential of losing the metrocard.

Client/Metro Company Side:

  1. Cost of the metrocard machine infrastructure.
  2. Ease of gaming the system by swiping your card for others has cost the city millions of dollars.

Based on the above pain points and common needs of a metro traveler we know newly designed system should have:

  1. No card interface, since users will need to buy and the old cycle will repeat.
  2. Should be quick as old metrocard or faster.
  3. Secure, so people cannot game the system by finding some hack.

Design:

Thought Process — Idea1:

Photo by Matthew Henry on Unsplash

I started thinking about having a facial biometric scanner for the ticketing system, the one just like in Sci-fi movies. You can travel whenever you want in the metro and after the trip, some amount is deducted from your bank account. It would have been so cool until I remembered Coronavirus and the prevalence of face mask after it. No one will remove their mask and be exposed to the virus so we won’t be able to charge them or people can just cover their faces and travel for free. Idea rejected.

Thought Process — Idea2:

Debit/Credit card swipe? Sounds good since everyone has it, so the existing system can work with some tweaks. Then I thought what if people began losing their Debit/Credit Cards more due to swiping them at metro stations, what about the germs they’re carrying along, a con artist can start gaming the metro system and gain card information about these people. And now it sounds like a bad idea. Idea rejected.

Thought Process — Idea3:

Idea3.1:

How about having an app where you can show a QR code and the amount gets deducted from your wallet.

Idea3.2:

Rather than making users install one more app on his mobile, how about we provide an API to all payment apps like Paytm, Phonepe, Uber, and Ola for the metro ticketing.

A QR code-based system, when you scan your app’s QR code in a metro station the travel fare is deducted from your wallet.

Image from https://www.masabi.com/metro-ticketing/

Payment through wallets vs direct bank transfer of money:

  1. Direct bank transfer of money is slow and a lot of times connection is unstable.
  2. Wallets are faster.

Wireframe:

MetroPass

This is the feature design for the Metro ticketing system. This is called the MetroPass.

On the right of MetroPass title, when the bar code icon is pressed — MetroPass QR code is shown. When this QR Code is scanned at the metro station the travel fare is automatically deducted from the wallet.

QR Code

Your trips sections show the metro travel history and the amount you spent. Add money section helps users add money to their MetroPass wallet.

Your trips and Add Money section

In the second last section, Find route helps users find a route from one metro station to another. Since there can be more than 10 metro lines intersecting, we should be able to direct our customers which metro line to take and when in order for them to reach their destination. Along with direction, if we can tell them the timing when the metro will arrive, this will help them more.

The last section is of refund from MetroPass, if the user no longer wishes to use it, we can refund the money from it.

Thanking you for reading.

Feedback is always welcomed. :)

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Harpreet Vishnoi

Carnegie Mellon University| Product Manager | AI Developer