3. Travelers & the information they need

The Traveler Personas and Their Information Needs

As we said in Section One, we developed this plan by starting with users of the transportation system. We considered the information needs of these travelers and also what protections they would need in terms of data or information.

We created personas by using three dimensions:

Are they familiar with the city and with the mode?

Are they new to the city?
Are they new to the travel mode? (e.g., car, bus, train, shared bike, etc.)

 

What part of the journey or trip are they on?

Are they just planning or starting the trip?
Are they in the middle of the trip?
Are they ending the trip?

What travel mode are they using or going to use?

On foot?
A bus or train?
A shared vehicle?
A personal car?
A personal bike or scooter?
A delivery vehicle?

We built the personas by selecting unique situations based on combinations of the dimensions. For example, a traveler could be a) new to the city, b) planning or starting a trip, and c) using a personal bike. Or, they could be a a) long-time resident; b) transferring between routes; and, c) using the bus for the first time.

We built the personas by selecting unique situations based on combinations of the dimensions. For example, a traveler could be a) new to the city, b) planning or starting a trip, and c) using a personal bike. Or, they could be a a) long-time resident; b) transferring between routes; and, c) using the bus for the first time.

We asked: 

“What information would this traveler need to complete their trip successfully?” 

“What protections would they need in terms of information?”

 

Below are brief write-ups of the 10 personas along with two or three sample questions of how the ecosystem might help or protect them. The following section then lists some of their common needs and protections. A more extensive list of information needs for each persona is in Appendix A.

We validated the needs and protections through representative focus groups and ethnograph-ic research. The following section then lists some of their common needs and protections. A more extensive list of information needs for each persona is in Appendix A.

VALIDATING OUR USERS

To understand user’s journey throughout the Seattle Area, the Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) sought the help of Story 2 Designs (S2D) in ethnographic methodologies.

SDOT was particularly concerned with how users accessed information in navigating Seattle, which methods they used to access transportation information, and how transportation information shaped their decisions on which mode they chose to navigate the city. While navigation was important in the study, focusing on information that participants used and were provided through a variety of information delivery systems (i.e. digital displays, bus signs, traffic alerts, etc.) was of key interest to the researchers.

After consideration, S2D suggested a diary study to understand user behaviors over time, and to capture information that users may have had difficulty recalling outside of the environment.

The SDOT TIIP diary study was conducted throughout the latter half of October 2019, allowing the team to build a representative population of those who use the Seattle’s transportation pathways and transportation information delivery systems. The goal was to understand the users’ goals, motivations and, tasks to be done.

Users were prompted three times of day with the following text:

•   Where did you go?
•   How did you get there?
•   What information did you use to get there?
•   Why did you go this way?

You can read about more about the methodology and findings in Appendix B.

 

Mitul – the schoolchild during a snow emergency

Mitul is 12 years old. Mitul grew up in Seattle and regularly takes public transit or rides his bike, but today is a snow-emergency day. Mitul just walked, with his bike, to the bus stop. He is deciding if he can take his regular bus, which may be on a different route. It’s a weekend morning, around 10 a.m.

Sample questions:

How will the ecosystem help Mitul choose what mode to ride next?

How will the ecosystem assist Mitul if he needs to contact his parents?

 

Nida – the pedestrian

Nida, in her mid-60s, is visiting the city for the first time and plans to explore the city on foot. She wants to visit interesting places. It’s a weekend morning, around 10 a.m.

Sample questions:

How will the ecosystem help Nida find the best walking routes, including the least hilly streets, to visit the most interesting places?

How will the ecosystem protect Nida’s privacy?

Juanita – the freelancer

Juanita is in her late 20s. Juanita has lived in Seattle for a long time and con-siders herself a local. She started doing deliveries as a side gig. This is her first day and she has just arrived at the destination of one of her deliveries. It’s a weekend evening, around 6 p.m.

Sample Questions:

How will the ecosystem help Juanita find the best route to take and find the most convenient places to load and unload her deliveries?

How will the ecosystem schedule Juanita’s deliveries so it doesn’t increase congestion?

 

Warren – the first-time vanpooler

Warren is in his mid-40s. He’s a long-time Seattleite, and his family has lived in the area for at least four generations. Warren usually drives to work, but he is taking a vanpool service for the first time today. Warren is just about to start his journey. It’s a weekday morning, around 8 a.m.

Sample Questions:

How will the ecosystem help Warren find the vanpool pickup and drop off locations?

How will it help him know what to do if he misses the pickup?

How will ecosystem allow Warren or his co-vanpoolers file a complaint if needed?

 

Ali – the motorist searching for parking

Ali is in their early 50s and identifies as non-binary. Ali knows Seattle well. They are planning a trip in a personal car, but this is the first time Ali is driving to this particular destination. Ali is planning or just starting their trip. It’s a weekday morning, around 10 a.m.

Sample Questions:

How will the ecosystem inform Ali about traffic conditions and the best route to take?

How will it tell them about road closures and delays?

 

Tony – the ride-hailer in the middle of the trip

Tony is in his mid-70s. Tony has lived in Seattle for a long time and considers himself a local. Tony used a ride-hail service (like Lyft or Uber) for the first time today and he is in the middle of his journey. It’s a weekday evening, around 5 p.m.

Sample Questions:

How will the ecosystem help Tony know where to get off?

How will it help him pay for his ride if he doesn’t have a credit card?

How will the ecosystem assure Tony that his financial transactions are safe?

 

Omondi and Jean – the child with a wheelchair & his friend

Omondi is 5 years old and uses a wheelchair. Jean sometimes accompanies Omondi. They both know where they want to go today and are planning to take either the bus or light rail (or both). This is their first time trying to go to their destination by bus or light rail. It’s a weekday afternoon, after school, around 3 p.m.

Sample Questions:

How will the ecosystem help Omondi and Jean find the location of nearest bus or light rail stop and the best way to get there with a wheelchair?

How will they know the bus or light rail schedule?

How will the ecosystem help transportation planners to serve Omondi and Jean better?

 

Hyun – the bike-share rider

Hyun is in high school. Hyun is a regular commuter, follows a regular travel pattern, and uses the same travel modes every day—a combination of bus and shared bike. Hyun arrived at her destination and is about to close out her trip on the shared bike and board her bus. It’s a weekend evening, around 6 p.m.

Sample Questions:

How will the ecosystem help Hyun know if there are changes in bus routes?

How will she know where to park her shared bike?

How will the ecosystem assure Hyun that she won’t get overcharged or pay higher than fair market prices?

 

Sarah – the blind student

Sarah is in her mid-20s. She just moved to Seattle for grad school. She’s been blind since birth and she’s an experienced traveler. It’s Sarah’s first day and she’s taking the bus. Her route requires a transfer. She’s riding on the first bus and her transfer stop is coming up sometime soon. It’s mid-morning on a weekday, around 10 a.m.

Sample Questions:

How will the ecosystem help Sarah know where to get off and where to take the next bus?

How will the ecosystem let Sarah know if the bus is delayed and how will it help her navigate if she needs to take an alternative route?

 

Terézia – the young parent

Terézia is a parent in her mid-20s. She has two children, a 2-year-old and a 5-year-old. Terézia and her family are new to the city and to the transportation system. She has picked out where she wants to go today and is planning how to get there either by bus or light rail (or both). She has one child in a stroller, and another walking alongside. It’s a weekday morning, around 8 a.m.

Sample Questions:

How will the ecosystem help Terézia and her children know what route to take and the price of a train or bus ticket?

How will it help them purchase tickets?

How will the ecosystem help Terézia to call for help if she needs it?

Common Information Needs

As we explored the individual information needs of the 10 traveler personas, commonalities emerged. Whatever the unique situation they were in, each persona needed easy access to informa-tion and that information should be accessible even without a smart phone or internet access. The most common information needs were about:Because the planet is facing a climate emergency, and in Seattle the biggest generator of green-house gas emissions is the transportation sector, the ecosystem should:

  • finding the locations of transportation infrastructure
    (e.g., bus stops or light rail stations, ADA ramps, payment kiosks, etc.); 
  • knowing real-time schedules and routes and real-time changes to schedules and routes
    (e.g. “Is my bus late?” “How many minutes before the next bus?”); 
  • the status or location of the mode they were taking
    (e.g. “Where’s the nearest available shared bike?”); 
  • options if the mode they want to use is not available
    (e.g. “Can I take light rail instead of a ride-hail?”); 
  • ways to submit complaints; and, 
  • a way to call for help in an emergency.

 

 

To be of greatest use to the traveler, the information above also needs to be accurate, readily available in real-time or near real-time.

Common Information Protections

Privacy was the most important concern in terms of data and information protection. Whatever mode they were using, the travelers needed assurance that their individual travel routes and other personally identifiable information was stored securely and could not be easily accessed by third parties without their knowledge. They need protection against unlawful surveillance by govern-ment or by corporations. They need secure financial transactions and protection against hacking, and need to be immediately informed if their information and privacy was compromised. They also need protection against spamming and against their data being used for marketing or advertising purposes without their express consent.

The Actors in the ecosystem

The current ecosystem of local urban transportation features a set of actors and agents that in-clude the familiar organizations who build, manage, run, or operate mobility services in cities, and the newer actors who mostly leverage information infrastructure to provide services. Each actorac-tor is the custodian or the producer of information about the physical and non-physical compo-nents of the transportation system.

The actors in the ecosystem are:

  1. The traveling public
  2. Government transportation agencies 
  3. Public transit agencies
  4. Emergency services
  5. Port, freight and courier services
  6. Urban goods and food delivery services
  7. Private transportation franchisees
  8. Mobility service providers
    1. Car-share companies like Zipcar and ShareNow
    2. Ride-hail companies (also called transportation network companies, or TNCs) 
    3. Vanpool and shared-ride services 
    4. Micro-mobility companies like bike share (docked and dockless) and e-scooter shares 
  9. Information service providers
    1. Navigation and map services
    2. Intelligent transportation system (ITS) vendors
    3. Payment gateway services
    4. Platform and analytics services
    5. Beacon low-energy location services
    6. Information brokers

How each actor gathers, stores, protects, processes, and transmits information to the traveling pub-lic and to each other determines how the transportation information infrastructure works. See Appendix D for descriptions of the actors listed above and the information they collect.

Figure 5: SDOT Input-Output

Need More Information?

This is a draft plan. It was developed by Benjamin de la Pena, Mary Alyce Eugene, Alex Hagenah, and Sam Marshall along with their colleagues from across the Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT).

If you have questions about this plan, please send us email via draft_tiip@seattle.gov.

If you have questions about SDOT, please visit our website at www.seattle.gov/transporation.

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