A Co-design Study of Digital Service Ideas
in the Bus Context
, Jarno Ojala, and Kaisa Väänänen
Tampere University of Technology, Tampere, Finland
Abstract. To enhance the desirability of public transportation, it is important to
design for positive travel experience. The context of bus transportation has
broad potential for utilization of novel, supplementary digital services beyond
travel information. The aim of our research was to study bus passengers’needs
and expectations for future digital services and to develop initial service concept
ideas through co-design. To this end, three Idea generating workshops with 24
participants were arranged. Our ﬁndings reveal six service themes that can be
used as a basis of designing future digital traveling services: (1) Information at a
glance while traveling, (2) Entertainment and entertaining activities, (3) Services
that support social interaction, (4) Multiple channels to provide travel infor-
mation, (5) Extra services for better travel experience, and (6) Services that
people already expect to have. The themes are discussed and further elaborated
in this paper.
Keywords: Bus Public transportation Digital services User needs
In recent years, urban mobility has been considered as one of the most signiﬁcant
societal challenges for the future as the need for transportation will raise, resulting
increase in emissions, noise and infrastructures [25,28]. As cities, worldwide are
forced to reduce emissions by, e.g. trying to reduce the usage of private cars, the role of
public transportation and the related services are becoming a central design issue. As
policy makers seek to encourage and support the widespread use of public trans-
portation, its services need to be developed so that it is seen as a more desirable option
for the wide audience [7,9]. This can be achieved by understanding the passenger’s
travel behavior and the multifaceted issue of trip satisfaction . To this end, indi-
viduals’travel behaviors have been targeted with informational education campaigns in
order to raise awareness and change attitudes .
For the public transportation to gain larger popularity, the transport providers and
planners should also consider the individuals’needs and expectations regarding short
distance traveling activities and thus design for better travel experiences . Enhancing
the attractiveness of public transportation can happen, for example, through
experience-driven design . The importance of user experience for customer
©IFIP International Federation for Information Processing 2017
Published by Springer International Publishing AG 2017. All Rights Reserved
R. Bernhaupt et al. (Eds.): INTERACT 2017, Part I, LNCS 10513, pp. 295–312, 2017.
satisfaction and loyalty have already been recognized by several organizations in
different ﬁelds . The context of public transportation has broad potential for the
application of digital services and other supplementary services that can add value to
the passengers’travel experience .
The goal of our research is to investigate how people experience the short distance
bus transportation and what kind of digital traveling services would enhance their travel
experience. By traveling services, we mean digital services that can support or enrich
the bus ride and the associated activities before and after it. This study is a part of a
larger research project called Living Lab Bus, in which one of the aims is to develop a
platform for interactive services for electric buses. However, the service ideas devel-
oped in this study are not speciﬁc for electric buses only, and most of them can also be
utilized in traditional buses.
This study aims to gain design-relevant insights on to how public transportation
services should be developed in order to better serve the travelers’needs and expec-
tations, and thus to improve the travel experience of buses. To gain deep understanding
of the user perspective, the present study took a participatory approach. The research
question is: What kind of services support the passengers’needs and expectations in
the bus context?
We address the research question by gathering user needs and expectations by
ideating with the potential users, novel digital services that could enhance their travel
experience. New service concept ideation can be seen as an initial phase of co-design
process, and thus the workshops were organized with a strong focus on participatory
ideation activities. To this end, we conducted a series of three Idea generating work-
shops with altogether 24 participants. We applied a context-speciﬁc workshopping
method to study situated activities in a speciﬁc environment, i.e. the bus. This paper
contributes to the understanding of short distance bus travel experience from the
perspective of user experience of digital services. The results of this paper contribute to
the design knowledge of the future digital services for the bus context. This knowledge
can be used as a basis for human-centered design for different categories of services
that can enhance the desirability of bus transportation.
2 Related Work
We present related work on travel experience and how supplementary digital services
can enhance the users’experience of bus transportation.
2.1 Travel Experience
Public transportation is a unique representation of urban space where individuals come
together with diverse socio-economic backgrounds at regular frequencies for extended
periods of time . Public transportation plays an important role in the way people
move around in their everyday life . Travel experience in the context of public
transportation is a result of the holistic view of the transportation service , including
the different experience components: the customer’s affective, cognitive, physical and
social responses to the service .
296 E. Hildén et al.
Several studies [e.g. 9,19], have found that public transportation users are generally
the least satisﬁed compared to other modes of transportation, such as private car drivers
and cyclists. Within different public transportation modes, the bus users were least
satisﬁed . The reasons for the low satisfaction rate is impacted by the attributes
such as the transport mode’sﬂexibility, “fun”factor and how well the mode matches
with the traveler’s lifestyle . However, a qualitative interview study conducted by
Hildén et al.  found that participants were generally pleased with the current travel
experiences with the local busses in two major cities in Finland –Helsinki and
Tampere. The study examined the trip satisfaction by comparing the experience of the
local public transportation services to the participants’previous experiences of public
The satisfaction rates of public transportation systems vary locally, and the reasons
for that can be drawn from multiple factors. External factors such as the timetables,
state of the vehicles, safety and the accessibility of public transportation have a strong
impact on the satisfaction rates. A pyramid of customer needs formed by van Hagen
and Bron  represents the train passengers needs and experiences in ﬁve levels (from
bottom to top): trust, travel time door to door, mental effort, physical effort, and
emotions. The model was used in the Netherlands Railways in shifting the focus of
measure from efﬁciency to customer experience.
Passengers’traveling behavior, and thus also the experience of traveling, is
changing simultaneously with the mix of transport modes and the offered services in
them . Furthermore, St-Louis et al.  state that trip satisfaction is affected not only
by external trip factors but also internal factors. They state that travel behavior is
inﬂuenced by spatial, socio-economic and personality components . Foth et al. 
have investigated the travel experience from three aspects of the journey –before,
during and after the trip. This division can be drawn from the user experience design,
where the experiences can be divided into different categories based to the stages of the
product, service or system usage . Even though user experience happens during the
interaction with a product, service or a system –and thus has a beginning and end –there
are still indirect experiences before the ﬁrst encounter as well as after the usage .
2.2 Supplementary Services for Better Travel Experience
Passengers in a vehicle are the ideal candidates to be entertained and informed about
aspects related to the journey as well as e.g. the social aspects of the travel, such as the
people sitting next to them . When conducting short distance journeys passengers
have great potential to interact with mobile services, unless they are traveling with a
companion . Hence, the context of public transportation has broad potential for the
application of digital services such as location-based services through the use of, for
example, travelers’mobile devices .
Dziekan and Kottenhoff  have studied the impact of real-time information dis-
plays on public transportation. They state that real-time travel information increases the
feeling of security, decreases the feeling of uncertainty, and makes the traveling easier,
since it saves passengers’effort when making a journey. Providing real-time travel
information results more efﬁcient traveling when passengers’can plan their journeys
leading to shorter traveling times . It also leads to utilization of wait time when
A Co-design Study of Digital Service Ideas in the Bus Context 297
passengers’can use the time to carrying out tasks, such as shopping . It also results
other adjusting strategies, for example enhancing the comfort of the journey by
choosing to wait for the next bus when the arriving bus is being crowded .
Maclean and Dailey studied real-time bus information on mobile devices already in
2001 . Later studies by Watkins et al.  and Ferris et al.  have studied the
enhanced usability of public transportation by providing good traveller information
systems to passengers. Both papers study a transportation information toolset
OneBusAway. OneBusAway is designed to decrease the passengers’feeling of
uncertainty of public transportation by providing real-time information for bus riders in
the area of Seattle . Tools that provide real-time arrival information to bus pas-
sengers improve the usability of public transportation and thus increase the passengers’
Developing the efﬁciency of traveling does not always increase the passengers’
travel experience. The access to real-time information of bus is just “a necessary ﬁrst
step which other ideas can build on and add further value”. To enhance the travel
experience Foth et al.  suggest that the systems of real-time passenger information
could rather focus on how the different journey options can be planned, assessed, and
distinguished on the aspects of fun instead of efﬁciency.
Foth et al.  studied the micro activities performed by passengers during commute
and their impact to the bus travel experience. These micro activities include activities of
social, entertainment, observational, travel, and routine. Similar studies have also been
conducted showing that people spend their time at, for instance bus stops and onboard
buses listening to music and using social media applications in addition to reading
newspapers and books or simply relaxing [e.g. 5,14]. Until today, it has been mostly
left to the passengers to entertain themselves .
Enhancing the attractiveness of public transportation can happen for example
through experience-driven design . Experience-driven design takes selected
experiences as design targets to inspire and guide design [1,17]. By familiarizing
oneself with the passengers’needs and current activities in the vehicle, new mobile and
supplementary services can be developed that have the potential of adding value to the
passengers’travel experience . No longer is transportation only about moving from
an origin to a destination but it is a way for the users to encounter different service
channels; such as off-board services (services that are used outside of the vehicle),
on-board entertainment or information before, during or after the bus trip . Carreira
et al. found that “Passengers also looked for other services, usually based on new
technologies that could enhance their experience during the overall trip”. To be able
to understand the demand in different travel settings, the service providers need to
familiarize themselves with the travel experience and its forming factors .
3 The Study with Co-design Workshops
This study aimed to gather design-relevant insights to how public transportation ser-
vices should be developed in order to better serve the passengers’needs and expec-
tations, and thus to improve their travel experience in buses. The research focuses on
gaining insights of the passengers’needs and expectations for digital traveling services,
298 E. Hildén et al.
in order to understand how the travel experience could be enhanced by developing the
existing services and by adding new, supplementary digital services to the public
transportation. This was studied by co-designing service ideas together with frequent
bus users and later analyzing the ideas generated in the co-design workshops.
In order to better understand the bus passengers needs and expectations, and to ideate
services, we conducted three co-design workshops. In co-design, users are invited to
participate to the design activities together with design professionals in a continuous
cooperative process that results in better solutions for daily life [22,23]. In co-design,
users are treated like experts, but since they often have very little experience on inno-
vation it is important to provide materials that support the ideation activities . The
co-design materials, such as workshop tools can provide different entry points to the
design problem as well as help the participants to build their own design language .
These co-design methods suit best for the early phases of the design process, e.g. for idea
generation through brainstorming new ideas, or when rethinking existing solutions .
3.1.1 Stimulus Materials
Findings of a semi-structured interview study  with ten international students was
carried out in order to gain insights of the current user experience of buses in Finland, as
well as of the expectations to the electric bus. The interview ﬁndings were used as an
input to the workshops in form of Context Cards (see Fig. 1). A set of 15 inspiration
Fig. 1. Examples of the context cards: on the left, the card of conﬁdence and feeling of being in
control and on the right, the card of luxurious and premium experience.
A Co-design Study of Digital Service Ideas in the Bus Context 299
cards was designed to help the participants with the ideation of the intangible traveling
service ideas. Seven (#1-7) of the cards were derived from the ﬁndings of an interview
study  and seven (#8-14) were chosen with small alteration from the 22 categories of
Playful Experience (PLEX) framework. PLEX Cards were developed to communicate
the Playful Experiences framework’s 22 categories to people who aim at designing for
playfulness . PLEX Cards have been used to generate ideas with experience driven
approach . The 15
card was added from the Living Lab Bus project agenda. The
cards were printed and cut into size 12 12 cm. Each card consisted of 3–4 pictures
and the card title. The Context Cards consisted of three theme sources:
1. Making the ecological values of electric bus visible
2. Informative communication
3. Entertaining activities
4. Atmosphere of relaxation
5. Subtle opportunities for social interaction
6. Luxurious and premium experience
7. Getting to know the personality of the driver
Themes from PLEX categories
8. Conﬁdence and feeling of being in control
9. Fellowship - friendship and communality
10. Opportunity to be creative and express oneself
11. Stimulating senses
12. Exploration and discovery to learn something new
13. Captivation - forgetting one’s surroundings
14. Competition - contest with oneself or an opponent
Theme from the [Blinded for review] project agenda
15. Utilizing the sensor data collected by the bus.
3.2 Idea Generating Workshops
This study consisted of a series of three co-design ideation workshops. The workshops
took place in Tampere and Espoo (Finland) in the spring of 2016. In Tampere, the
public transportation is focused on bus transportation, and the bus lines cover the city
well. In Helsinki region –including the city of Espoo, the public transportation is
multimodal, which means that the passengers have access to bus, commuter train, tram,
metro, and a commuter ferry with one travel card. In both cities, the public trans-
portation could be described as a functioning and well-planned system. Still there is a
general need to develop the attractiveness of the public transportation system.
The workshop process and stimulus materials were identical in all three workshops.
However, all of the three workshops were organized in a different environment with
different levels of contextuality: (1) imagined environment, (2) a stimulated environ-
ment and (3) a real environment. These three workshop context types were selected in
300 E. Hildén et al.
order to study the optimal level of workshop contextuality (results reported in a sep-
arated publication). The settings of the workshops were (see Fig. 2):
1. A classroom at a university –Imagined environment (Workshop 1, WS1)
2. Technologically advanced lab in a research institute –Stimulated environment
(Workshop 2, WS2)
3. Moving electric bus, Espoo, Finland –Real environment (Workshop 3, WS3)
3.2.1 Workshop Process
The agenda of the workshop sessions consisted of short presentation of the day’s
agenda, goals for the day and briefs for the tasks. We wanted to provide the participants
with electric bus speciﬁc inspiration, and thus videos of the unique qualities of electric
buses were shown to highlight the silent and smooth ride. An icebreaker exercise
served as a starting point for the workshops. The participants were asked to share a
good or a bad experience when using public transportation and share this with others.
This helped the participants to relax and set to the right mindset.
Five scenarios –situations that could take place in the context of bus transportation –
were used to guide the main part of the workshop. Before the ideation we encouraged
the participants to ideate wild and creative ideas. At this stage, it was not relevant to
think about costs nor the technology available. The task was to come up with service
ideas that could enhance their own travel experience in that speciﬁc situation. The
1. The bus was few minutes too early and you just missed it. Now you have to wait for
the next one.
2. You are in the bus. The route is unfamiliar to you.
3. You are in the bus. The route is familiar to you so you can lay back and relax.
4. You get off at your destination stop after a busy day.
5. You have to change to another bus in a big transportation hub, like Kamppi in
Fig. 2. Pictures from each workshop context: imagined environment (picture a), stimulated
environment (picture b) and real environment (picture c).
A Co-design Study of Digital Service Ideas in the Bus Context 301
Participants were divided into teams of 2–3 persons (three teams in each workshop,
nine in total) for the ideation tasks. 15–20 min was spent for each scenario task after
which the groups shared their ideas with others. The participants were asked to choose
one to three Context Cards at a time to guide their ideation during the scenario exer-
cises. They were also encouraged to use different cards within and for each scenario to
get diverse ideas.
The workshops had 7–9 participants each. The workshop participants were mainly
students and they represented diverse study programmes (e.g. HCI, Bioengineering,
Business, Automation Engineering, Art and Design). Most participants of all work-
shops stated that their main reason for traveling was going to university (12 partici-
pants) or to work (4 participants), 12 said that they use public transportation to travel
during their free time. Majority of the workshop participants used public transportation
frequently: 12 participants stated that they use public transportation at least 4 days a
week, and eight participants 2–3 days a week. Only four said that they use it once a
week or more rarely. See Table 1for the participant details.
3.2.3 Data Collection and Analysis
The sessions were voice recorded and ﬁlmed. We transcribed the recordings and the
documentation sheets in which the participants documented their ideas. The analysis
was done by thematically grouping the ideas bottom up. To draw out common themes
from the ideas we used afﬁnity diagramming  in the analysis. Building the afﬁnity
diagram allowed us to understand the traveling service ideas thematically. As a result
the transcriptions were divided to 181 individual traveling service ideas or digital
service features. These 181 service ideas were generated in the workshops by different
student teams, and thus they included a few same or similar ideas.
Table 1. Participants of each workshop.
Attribute Imagined environment
1990 1982 1987
Gender 4 F, 4 M 3 F, 6 M 3 F, 4 M
Iran, Pakistan, Spain,
China, Finland, India,
302 E. Hildén et al.
The purpose of this study was to gain design-relevant insights for the development of
supplementary services for public transportation that can improve the bus travel
experience. We wanted to understand the bus users’needs and expectations for such
traveling services, and therefore utilized co-design workshops to gather service ideas
from the workshop participants. This chapter presents ﬁndings –six service themes –
that answer our research question: What kind of services support the passengers’needs
and expectations in the bus context?
The study ﬁndings were grouped thematically bottom up into 46 subthemes and
ﬁnally to six main themes (see Table 2). The traveling service ideas related to each
service theme are presented in the following. The main service themes, derived from
the ideas generated by the workshop participants were: Information at a glance while
traveling, Entertainment and entertaining activities, Services that support social
interaction, Multiple channels to provide travel information, Extra services for better
travel experience and Services that people already expect to have. For the subthemes,
participants’ideas are presented below in quotes.
Table 2. The found themes and subthemes of digital services for the bus context.
Information at a glance while traveling Discovering interesting places in the surroundings
Discovering interesting events
Aiding the navigation to the stop of connecting line
Easy access to journey related information
Bus showing information outside about the line and
Connecting the public screen with the mobile phone
Entertainment and entertaining
VR, AR windows
Physical exercise suggestions at bus stops and when
in the bus
Art and visual entertainment
Bus stop speciﬁc entertainment
Services that support social interaction Sharing social media with other passengers in the
Games for people sitting next to each other
Silent and loud areas for buses
Suggesting “bus mates”from other passengers to
Interactive screens at bus stops to aid with
Writing and sharing stories with fellow passengers
A Co-design Study of Digital Service Ideas in the Bus Context 303
4.1 Information at a Glance While Traveling
This theme includes service ideas dealing with the easy and effortless access of
information during the travel. This theme consists of 30 ideas within seven subthemes.
The subthemes found most relevant for our study were: Easy access to journey related
information with ideas such as “Touch screen information points to the transportation
hubs”and “More information screens installed into the bus”;Discovering interesting
places in the surroundings with ideas such as “Mobile guide tour –possibility to match
with someone local who could give you a tour around the nearby area”and “A map at
the bus stop that would provide information about the neighborhood”; and Connecting
Table 2. (continued)
Multiple channels to provide travel
Real time information of the bus location
Alerts of the approaching stop
Info about the next 2-3 stops
Info about intersecting lines
Bus driver giving information on the surrounding
Re-planning your journey on the go
Compensation for late buses
Connecting transfer modes
Information about bus consumption & green values
Conﬁrmation of being on the right bus stop
Extra services for better travel
Indication of available seats
Vending machine at the bus stop
Possibility to inform the driver to wait for you
Luxury, premium and extra service
Handling of the luggage
Borrow, rent carts/carriages to carry luggage
More comfortable seats at the stop/hubs
Waiting area/lounge at the transportation hub
Borrow umbrella and return it next time
Instant channel for feedback
Services that people already expect to
Physical place (other than the bus) to buy tickets in
Better, adjustable seats in the bus
Free Wi-Fi available
Possibility to charge your phone
Possibility to check balance and charge your travel
Temperature-controlled bus stop
304 E. Hildén et al.
the public screen with the mobile phone with ideas such as “Possibility to transfer the
information from public screen to mobile phone”.
Participants highlighted the importance of clear communication of, and easy access
to information, whether being inside or outside the vehicle. For example, the partici-
pants stated a need to aid the navigation to the bus stop or gate of the connecting line.
Participants also wanted the bus to show more information to outside, such as placing
the bus number to every side of the bus so that it would be visible also when standing
next to the bus. Participants had some ideas for new ways of communicating the
information such as utilizing interactive windows as screens and enhancing the con-
nection between the public screens and personal mobile phones. As one group stated,
the modern technology could allow the phone to connect to the bus stop screen, which
could advertise them speciﬁc things to do, i.e. try out new cafeteria around the corner.
Participants stated the need to get advertisement of the local neighborhood and
events around the area. One of the ideas within the subtheme Discovering interesting
places in the surroundings was about providing the passengers’easy recipes that could
be in line with what is on sale in the local supermarket (“Meal inspiration –show all
supermarket, restaurant and bar deals from the local area together with the opening
hours”). Other ideas were about notifying the passengers about upcoming local events
in the surrounding area. One team stated the need to bring surprising factors to
everyday life and thus their idea focused on decorating the bus or bus stop with the
seasonal events –like the Ice Hockey World Championships in May –with sound,
lights, visualizations and smells.
4.2 Entertainment and Entertaining Activities
This theme includes service ideas dealing with a variety of entertainment modes within
the bus transport journey from the bus stop to the actual bus. The theme consists of 29
ideas within six subthemes. The subthemes found most relevant for our study were:
Passive entertainment with ideas such as “Onboard entertainment, such as music and
games”and “Screen with randomized questions to learn something new”;Active
entertainment with ideas such as “Drawing exercises at the back of the seats”and
“Games to play with the other passengers in the bus”;Bus stop speciﬁc entertainment
with ideas such as “Public screen with games and news”and “Playing the sound of
birds singing to make you feel welcome to the bus stop”; and Physical exercise
suggestions at bus stops and when in the bus with ideas like “Exercise instructions to
keep you warm at the bus stop”and “Application that would suggest easy exercises
after sitting still for a certain period of time”.
Participants generally stated the need to be entertained and having multiple options
to choose from depending on your mood and energy levels. Several suggestions came
for public touch screens that would provide entertainment and travel information inside
the bus and at the bus stop. Participants were also willing to get free access to music
while traveling by bus with ideas such as attached headphones, earphone jacks, and
sound booths. Some ideas focused on utilization of modern technology, such as VR
and AR. Ideas were generated where the VR experience could be either provided with
VR glasses or with smart windows. This way people could entertain themselves by
A Co-design Study of Digital Service Ideas in the Bus Context 305
looking at different sceneries –different seasons, predictions of future life, informative
guide tours of local attractions, etc.
4.3 Services that Support Social Interaction
This theme includes ideas related to the social aspects of traveling by bus. The theme
consists of 13 ideas within six subthemes. This theme was the smallest one in the
number of service ideas. Many people stated that they want to relax in the bus and
therefore being social is not a priority.
The most relevant subthemes within this theme were: Sharing social media with
other passengers in the bus with the ideas such as “Creating a social network of the
passengers”,Games for people sitting next to each other with ideas such as “Bus
related team games for the two people sitting next to each other”; and Interactive
screens at bus stops to aid with communication, with ideas such as “Creating a hashtag
for each bus stop to enhance the community feeling”and “Guide request button that
connects to the transportation provider’s help desk that gives you answers in real time”.
Participants had ideas of creating and sharing things with the other passengers
within the bus. One idea was that one could write a story that the others could read and
maybe even edit and this could be then published on the big screens in the bus. There
were also many suggestions for a social network within the bus where you could
communicate with others and, for instance, search for people with similar interests.
4.4 Multiple Channels to Provide Travel Information
Amongst the participants this was seen as the most important and easiest category to
ideate around, based on the amount of ideas within the subthemes. This theme includes
ideas related to the information regarding the journey. The theme consists of 46 service
ideas within 10 subthemes. The subthemes found relevant were: Real time information
of the bus location with ideas such as “A screen at the bus stop with a real time map
with the vehicles’locations”,“Journey planner that would function also without
internet connection”and “A screen attached to the back of the front seat in front of you
that would have your personalized journey”;Alerts of the approaching stop with ideas
like “Voice alert or wake-up call”and “Vibrating bench when your stop is
approaching”;Bus driver giving information on the surrounding environment with
ideas such as “The driver reminding people of their stops”and “The driver providing
information of the surrounding area like a tourist guide”; and Information about bus
consumption and green values with ideas like “The screens in the bus could show the
beneﬁts of using the ecofriendly modes of transport”and “Displaying the CO2 savings
personally and by all passengers on board at that time”.
Even though real time journey planners already exist, it was still seen important to
provide the information in various of ways, i.e. through public screens, voice alerts and
mobile phone applications. Important features were also the ability to quickly re-plan
your journey in case the plan A failed and also to get some compensation if the bus
never shows up or is remarkably late from its schedule. Other ideas mentioned were i.e.
about showcasing not only the approaching busses but also the ones that already went,
so that you would know not to wait for it to come. One team stated a need to get
306 E. Hildén et al.
conﬁrmation that you have arrived to the correct bus stop. One team on the other hand,
had an idea of using the same maps in all the applications so that it would be easier to
understand and read them.
4.5 Extra Services for Better Travel Experience
This theme includes ideas regarding something that is considered being “extra”, which
would enhance the travel experience. The participants brought up a need for services
that link to, but are not directly part of the bus ride. The theme consists of 43 service
ideas within 11 subthemes. This theme was seen as the second most important and
easiest category to ideate around, based on the amount of ideas within the subthemes.
The subthemes found most relevant for our study were Luxury, premium and extra
service with ideas such as “Home delivery, when you are too tired to walk home from
the bus stop”,“Comfort seats that allow you to sleep”and “Lottery with different prices
utilizing the travel card usage”;Instant channel for feedback with ideas such as “Give
feedback for the driver”and “Rate the travel experience when you get off”; and
Vending machine at the bus stop with ideas like “Refreshments, such as coffee and
snacks”and “More exotic alternatives of food choices available”.
Participants also suggested a lounge type of place for the transportation hubs that
would contribute to the overall travel experience by more comfortable and enjoyable
waiting time. Teams suggested silent rooms with sleeping pods and rooms with dif-
ferent ambient or themes, such as forest or beach. In this lounge families could take
care of their kids and also one would have free access to the toilet facilities. One
suggestion was that you would need a travel card to access this space and thus it would
not be available for everyone.
Teams generated also ideas related to the sharing economy. Suggestions came for
i.e. borrowing carts or carriages for handing luggage, borrowing an umbrella and
returning it the next time and a book or magazine exchange. Regarding the physical
environment, the participants hoped to have i.e. more comfortable seats with neck
support, so that it would be easier to sleep both in the bus and in the lounge area while
waiting for the bus.
4.6 Services that People Already Expect to Have
This theme includes ideas dealing with the “must haves”or hygiene factors that the
participants noted to be important. The theme consists of 20 ideas within six sub-
themes. The subthemes include Physical place (other than the bus) to buy tickets in
advance with ideas such as “Buying your ticket advance should notify the driver that
he should not leave earlier”and “A place to buy the tickets to shorten the queues”;
Possibility to check balance and charge your travel card with ideas like “Make
tomorrow a smoother day and charge your card while you wait for the bus”and
“Information desks where you could buy tickets”; and Temperature-controlled bus
stops with ideas like “Heating system at the bus stop that you pay for”and “Closed bus
stops so that the heat stays inside”.
A Co-design Study of Digital Service Ideas in the Bus Context 307
Most popular needs and ideas were related to free Wi-Fi available for passengers in
the bus and the possibility to charge one’s phone. Also, some ideas were related to the
physical qualities of the bus, for instance better and adjustable seats.
The aim of our study was to understand how to enhance the bus travel experience by
digital services. There are needs and expectations for new services that do not simply
focus solely on the efﬁciency of the trip but rather, on the pleasurable experience of
related activities, such as entertainment, social interaction and “extra”services that
enhance the travel experience. Our study shares the motivation of Foth et al.  that
holistic understanding of passengers’requirements is needed in order to develop ser-
vices that can add value for the users and thus enhance their travel experience. Our study
also validates some of the ﬁndings of Foth et al.  regarding the passengers’needs and
expectations for future traveling services. In speciﬁc, we agree with Foth et al.  that
traveling services, together with the supplementary services, could focus more on the
entertaining aspects of the journey instead of solely on the efﬁciency of the trip.
In our study, we identiﬁed six service themes based on ideas that the workshop
participants generated in the co-design sessions. Many of the individual service ideas
have already been studied or even implemented and hence, the novelty of our study
does not lie in the individual service ideas, but rather in the overall service theme
categorization. Where the themes of Information at a glance while traveling, Multiple
channels for better traveling experience, and Services that people already expect to
have are somewhat axiomatic and predictable the other three themes hold more nov-
elty. These themes have been addressed also by Dziekan and Kottenhoff , Watkins
et al.  and Ferris et al. .
Even though commuting is often seen as private quality time , people still crave
for social interaction and therefore we believe that the theme Services that support
social interaction has high design-relevant potential for successful services. Supporting
the social interaction can happen in forms of traditional face-to-face discussions or, for
instance, via social media. In addition to direct interaction, the participants generated
ideas with indirect interaction, such as co-writing short stories or playing mobile games
As Carreira et al.  state, in order for public transportation to gain larger popu-
larity, the transport providers and planners should be considering the individual trav-
elers’needs regarding short distance traveling activities. Thus, the services should be
more personable focusing on individuals and their daily lives providing Extra services
for better travel experience. To attract more people to choose public means of trans-
portation over private cars, something that adds extra value to the commute should be
available. The workshop participants generated service ideas that are familiar from
other transportation ﬁelds, such as aviation industry. However, not all these ideas were
for digital services. For instance, a lounge type of waiting area or better bus stops are
simple, yet major improvements that have an impact on the quality of the wait time.
People also wanted to feel that they have a voice and that their voice is heard, in case
there is a need to give feedback. This need generated several ideas regarding digital
308 E. Hildén et al.
feedback channels. This addition to the existing transportation service is something that
would also beneﬁt the service providers, when they would get real-time data of the
problems occurring during peoples’traveling time.
Even though people are nowadays entertained by their mobile phones and the
applications in them, there is still a need to be provided with entertainment via other
channels too. Entertainment and entertaining activities theme included service ideas of
both active and passive entertainment. Especially services for passive entertainment,
such as showing content on displays in the bus and bus stops were needed. Currently
these displays are ﬁlled with news and commercials, but the participants of this study
expected more local information, such as information of surrounding area –parks and
attractions, as well as advertisement of local events, shops and restaurants.
Based on the service themes described in this paper, we propose tentative experi-
ence characteristics for digital services in the bus context:
•Feeling of being in control relates, on one hand to the basic need for successful
traveling, that is, the journey from A to B and how it can be kept manageable at all
times. Supplementary services can add to the feeling of control by providing cues
about the landmarks, schedules and the overall travel chain.
•Relaxation is another central experience for the bus context. Many people prefer to
spend their traveling time relaxing, preferably alone. Bus ride is seen as private
quality time for many people and hence, there should be ways to enhance “calm”
experience instead of pushing everyone to be active and social.
•Connectedness is related to people’s feeling of being part of a community and
friends, for example via their mobile phones and social media. More indirect
connectedness could also relate to sharing economy between bus passengers.
•Local experiences form another experience category that provides design oppor-
tunities for the bus ride. These experiences can take the form of infotainment –
knowing the local environment, advertisements and local contacts to people.
•Being modern, even if not an experience per se, refers especially to utilization of
modern technology –such as shared public displays, VR, AR and smart windows –
when using new traveling services, both informative and entertaining services.
Using modern solutions may evoke further related experiences such as curiosity and
From the above experience characteristics, relaxation and connectedness are pro-
posed also by Hilden et al. . Additionally, they propose that emphasizing the
ecological choice and feeling of luxury can be accounted for in the design of digital
services in electric buses. Depending on goals of a speciﬁc service design effort for the
bus context, these experience characteristics could be turned to experience targets
according to the approach of Experience-Driven Design , which can increase user
acceptance of the developed services.
The study was limited in the number of participants as well as number of work-
shops. Students as participants do naturally not represent all possible target groups.
However, we consider students with international background as a good starting point
for establishing understanding of service themes, since they are known as active users
of public transportation, and an active and enlightened group of smartphone users.
A Co-design Study of Digital Service Ideas in the Bus Context 309
Another reason to focus on students at this stage was also the potential in them as
application developers, which is one of the areas we will study in the future.
In our future work, we are planning to conduct co-design workshops with other
stakeholder and user groups by taking the ideas generated in these workshops further.
We will furthermore utilize the special characteristics of the electric bus, such as the
quietness of the bus, novel types of displays, and various sensor-based data that can be
collected during the bus ride. Another possibility for future work is to study the found
service idea categories in relation to other models of passenger needs, for example the
pyramid of customer needs by van Hagen and Bron . The presented ﬁndings
regarding bus service needs and ideas reveal themes that can be used in development of
services. Our study also revealed themes that can be used to inform the interaction
design of future traveling services in different phases of the journey: before, during and
after the trip. We ﬁnd this an interesting way to categorize service needs and ideas and
thus, we will also explore these aspects in our future studies.
In this paper, we presented the ﬁndings of our study of bus passengers’needs and
expectations for future digital services by developing initial service concept ideas
through co-design. This was done by conducting three Idea generating workshops with
24 participants. The study ﬁndings revealed six service themes that can be used as a
basis of the design of future digital traveling services: (1) Information at a glance while
traveling, (2) Entertainment and entertaining activities, (3) Services that support social
interaction, (4) Multiple channels to provide travel information, (5) Extra services for
better travel experience, and (6) Services that people already expect to have. This
knowledge can be used as a basis for human-centered design of digital services that can
enhance the desirability of bus transportation.
This study was a part of a larger research project Living Lab Bus, in which one of
the aims is to develop a platform for interactive services for electric buses. However,
the ﬁndings of the study were not speciﬁc for electric buses only and can be utilized
also in traditional buses.
Acknowledgments. This research was funded by Tekes and Tampere University of Technol-
ogy. We thank Virpi Oksman and Jani-Pekka Jokinen for their help in running the Idea gener-
ating workshops 2 and 3, respectively.
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