CapMetro is an official local public transportation app for the bus system in Austin. The features of this app are listed:

  • purchasing tickets
  • checking route maps
  • planning for trips and itinerary
  • locating near the bus stop and next departure time.

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CapMetro is an app that I have to use and hate to use every day I thought it was a really bad design. I used this app only for checking the next departure time of the bus I plan to take with its stop ID number. Other features of CapMetro app can all be replaced by Google Maps or Transit app since their interface designs are way clearer to understand and use. The only reason that I keep the CapMetro app on my phone is the higher departure time prediction than the other app. I have a list of certain stop IDs that I need frequently in my iPhone memo: my home, the bus stop in front of my school building, transfer stop, and the closest HEB to my place. The locating near bus stop feature is designed for checking departure time as well, but due to the bug and slowness of this app, I always lose patience and fail to use this feature and turn to the stop ID system that I actually don’t like to use very much.

Stop ID Number

     The stop ID system is totally a redundant system. Based on top 10 usability heuristics, this design violates the principle of allowing recognition rather than recall, and also ignores the issue of human’s memory.
     First of all, there is no obvious rule for the number, they all seem like randomly assigned. My solution to the chaotic ID number system is to make a list, but it takes me effort and time to visit my notes and retrieve the number I need.
     Also, I think the use of number is quite confusing because people can also search for the address, which makes the interface of CapMetro is full of numbers but none of them has a clear hint of their information. For example, I always thought that is "3496-1017" rather than "Stop ID: 3496, 1017 Camino La Costa" in the image. By the way, this design cannot let users see the whole option but only the first few words of the bus stop name, which is also annoying.

Readability of the schedule

     The nested design for the schedule page is so complicated to read.

     It puts a landscape table on a portrait page, and there is a navigation menu on the top of the page. The ‘Select a Route’ looks irrelevant to the other part of this page, the ‘show map’ button will replace the table with an embedded interactive google map, but there are only certain stops be flagged on the route map.

     The questionable readability brings bad visibility, there is no clear affordance or mapping for the new user to read the schedule easily, and the ambiguous information might give user wrong information.

     There was one time I kept checking the departure time of route 320 on a Sunday evening, and the system kept telling me there’s an error, but it ended up that my roommate called me to take Uber home because there’s no 320 after 8pm on Sunday, which wasn’t what the system told me.

Proposed change

     Overall, I think purchasing tickets is the main reason that CapMetro couldn’t be completely replaced by Google Maps or other navigation applications. But this feature is also not so commonly used. The bus schedule and locating bus stop/time should both be improved.

     My suggestions: cancel the stop ID syste and make the stop name more exclusiv. After the route searching, the presentation of bus route could be a list of bus stop names and the estimated arrival time. Users could swipe for southbound/northbound information, and locate the information they want by recognizing the stop name. A route map should still be accessed on the same page, and provides current bus/user’s location on the map.