MARTA Metro Crowdsourcing App

The SMARTA User Experience Team

From left to right: Megan, Gabriel, Eric, Brandi, Chris, Perry


MARTA riders deal with problems day in and day out, including panhandling, broken-down trains, environmental, mechanical, and sanitary issues. There is not a reliable way to report these issues and ensure that someone will actually fix these problems.


Field Research

I visited a MARTA train station and observed the environment first-hand, using the restroom, buying a train ticket, and taking a train ride This provided me context, and a "walk in the shoes" feel of the user.

I observed broken signs, dim lighting, and panhandlers bothering some of the other customers on the train. This made for a displeasing MARTA experience.

Broken screen in MARTA station

Station map difficult to read

Assistance phone no dial tone

User Interviews

I conducted a short five question survey with eight MARTA riders, gathering data on their riding experience and ways in which it could be improved. Two of the biggest take-aways were as follows:

My colleague Chris (right) and I (left) waiting to conduct user interviews at the MARTA station.

Affinity Mapping

With pain points and data collected, we got to work with affinity mapping. Each team member (including myself) wrote down issues on sticky notes that might be a problem while riding MARTA based on our research. Issues ranged from sanitation, mechanical, passenger behavior, and navigational problems.


Conversational UX-Making it accessible

Many users do not have access to a smart phone. Keeping these users in mine is crucial, and I designed a conversational UX platform that works over standard SMS.

Sketches of a non-smart phone conversational UX text

What our conversational UX SMS text looks like in action

Employee Side of SMARTA

Riders need to know their concerns are being heard, so I designed an employee app as well. Below are a few of the screens that tackle customer-employee interaction.

Employee homescreen

An employee is greeted with their picture, followed by a requests tab, a completed tab, and a shout out tab. Also featured is a clock in/clock out tab, which could be used to track hours and allow an employee to keep track of time in future iterations.

Crowdsourced request

When a customer submits a request, it will then be sent to an employee nearby. An employee will tap the screen to confirm receipt.

Added to queue

Once an employee confirms receipt, the request will be added to their queue. Upon completion, a notification will be sent out to the users who sent the request in.

Customer shout-outs

Once a user has been notified that an employee has taken care of the request, they have the option to acknowledge the hard work and send appreciation via a shout-out. This will potentially lead to higher morale and a sense of self-worth.

Next Steps

Analyze call center data

The MARTA call center is inundated with calls, ranging from reporting crime to reporting a puddle. This application could potentially save time and money, and prevent resources from being wasted.

Employee merit-based programs

Corporate MARTA can now have a better sense of which of their employees are going above and beyond to take care of the customer. This data can be used when it is time to consider who is deserving of a raise or potential promotion.

Customer rewards-based programs

Rewarding customers for reporting issues can lead to an increase in usage and help make the metro system safer. This Rewards could be administered as discounted rides or coupons with various community partners.