Riding and waiting for the bus is disproportionately more unpleasant in Chicago's neglected neighborhoods. Ironically, this is exactly where bus routes trace former bustling corridors on the west and south sides. How might we utilize existing assets to connect local residents with local businesses (and vice versa)?
Installing bus trackers in storefronts within a block of a bus stop offers arrival times for peace of mind, provides another option for shelter, and allows residents to interact with neighbor-owned businesses.
Our commitment to systems-thinking demands us to investigate root causes. With this in mind, our interview questions for users are shaped by some foundational questions that we ask ourselves as a team.
Current CTA shelters with bus tracker displays are located at major intersections, not prioritizing residents.
We conducted user interviews with residents and small business owners to validate our initial assumptions.
Thanks to the many stakeholders who offered their valuable feedback.
After conducting interviews, residents and local small business owners are nostalgic of the bustling commercial corridors from decades ago. They have confidence that their neighborhood can sustain a local economy if the correct framework is laid out.
Waiting for the bus is more unpleasant than usual when unaware of its arrival time.
Even if they own a cell phone, users don't want to bother checking it for the bus. Other users don't want to check their mobile device because they'd rather not use up their data plan.
Residents want to learn more about their local businesses. Some are even embarrassed to go inside.
Some residents prefer taking the bus to the train because it's safer and it's closer. They prefer these qualities over speed. Most of these users are female.
Small business owners are looking for more face-to-face methods of connecting with customers. They prefer customers that live in the neighborhood because they are more likely to become recurring customers.
After hearing from users, we prioritized a design direction that could improve upon the bus wait. We also wanted to prioritize qualities that encouraged face-to-face connections and sparked conversations unique to the neighborhood.
We submitted a previous version of this project to the Urban Urge Awards.
While some business storefronts install displays in established neighborhoods, the displays actually act as a catalyst in neglected neighborhoods.
This simple action can bring neighbor-owned business activity back to these struggling areas and drive residential infill by encouraging community-driven self-reliance.
For residents who take the bus regularly but don't have internet access, they can find arrival times within a block of their bus stop.
Small business owners can connect with potential customers that live within walking distance of their storefront.
Residents are encouraged to explore the storefront since the display acts as an unrelated first step to overcome any initial hesitation.
If you own/rent a storefront business in Chicago, in an area in need of economic and community development, be part of our simple but meaningful project. Apply here.
How many customers are aware that there is a tracker available for use?
How many of those waiting for the bus know that there is a tracker in a nearby shop?
How many of those waiting peruse the shop and/or buy their goods/services?
Please contact us about how to get involved.