To round off a week of intervention activity delivered by the CityVerve Community Champions, we invited members of the public to share their thoughts and experiences of public transport in Manchester, with a particular focus on bus journeys. The primary aim for the workshop was to consider how bus stops and transport routes could  be improved through the lens of community spaces.

What were we doing?

The aim of the workshop was to gather insights, feedback and personal stories from public transport users, following the establishment of Community KPIs at the first CityVerve Community Forum. The most popular KPI related to the transport theme was that CityVerve should aim to encourage the use of bus stops as community spaces – here, we wanted to find out what that really means to regular transport users.

Designed and delivered by Olivia Peers of the Community Champions, we invited participants to The Shed, which houses the Digital Innovation programme of CityVerve partner Manchester Metropolitan University. To start the day, participants swapped stories of their most recent bus journey, or most recent experience of public transport. By focusing on the emotion and gestures threaded throughout each story, we were able to identify common scenarios that elicit a strong emotional response. Continuing the theme of emotional examination, participants also wrote short poems that looked at their attitudes to public transport in the context of their own specific community.

This led into a prototyping session, where insights were used to design solutions to particular friction points and emotional responses related to public transport. By looking at the bus stop as a community space, participants proposed a huge variety of features – while some were more feasible than others, we found some really valuable insights for the Talkative Bus Stops use case team to use in the development of their contribution to CityVerve.

How does it fit into CityVerve?

As we’ve mentioned in previous blogs, community KPIs are a way of measuring the success of the CityVerve project in terms generated by the people who live, work and play in Manchester. Since devising an initial set of community KPIs at the first CityVerve Community Forum, this intervention workshop was our first opportunity to assess them against a new group of transport users. Alongside deeper user research undertaken by project partners, the community KPIs will help to shape the direction of the project.

The Community Forums and Intervention Workshops taking place over the next 2 years are crucial to CityVerve’s success. They’re a way for the community to be involved in influencing how Manchester can become a Smart City and to ensure that the needs of Manchester’s residents are represented throughout the initiative.

What were the outcomes?

The anecdotal stories we heard were really useful to quickly identify common friction points or positive experiences. For example, frustration (and a range of negative emotions) featured commonly, particularly in relation to delays, disruption and lack of seating. Conversely, we heard that bus stops and public transport can offer highly positive experiences which could be built upon; from simple pleasures like people watching to a particularly friendly driver, we noticed that there is already a sense of community within transport users.

We recognised that while different entities are responsible for many of these areas (from ticketing to scheduling, maintenance to communication), small changes have the ability to make big improvements. For example, many of the frustrations related to delays, roadworks and disruption may be reduced through improved communication at the bus stop. Through prototyping, participants tried to illustrate how such additions/changes can work together to improve a bus user’s experience. Information was a key feature covered by each group through information boards, large format screens, real-time journey updates, breaking news and weather etc. Others focused on how bus stops  could  be seen as true community spaces through passenger lounges, concessions and improved lighting & security.

How can I be involved?

Join us at the next CityVerve Community Forum on Wednesday 30th November (17:30-20:30), where we’ll be talking about data and privacy in relation to the Internet of Things. We’ll announce further Community Forums soon, so keep an eye on the CityVerve website.