(another long overdue post)
On November 13, 2008, I headed back to my old uni UTS and attended World Usability Day Sydney. The theme was public transport which is a subject that I am very passionate about. The title was “What would it take to get you out of your car?”
I had an awesome time and learnt so much.
I am always thinking about usability issues, in particular signage. I did a research dissertation on signage and pictograms and ever since then, whenever I am traveling in other countries I notice how easy it is to get around without knowing how to read the local language. However, in my own home city I am extremely disappointed. No matter how many times I go to any of the underground stations in the city I find myself getting lost (unless I make the exact same trip each time which I don’t). The signage is sorely inadequate and needs to be redone quick smart! When I am walking in the underground part of QVB I have no idea if I’m headed towards the station or away from it.
(this is probably a really boring read if you don’t live in Sydney so feel free to skip my ramblings and look at the pictures at the end)
Getting back to the topic, I caught public buses continually from the age of 14 to 24. I served my time! I got my full driver’s license at the age of 21 but didn’t drive on a regular basis till I was 24. I wanted to cry when I realized people living in the Blue Mountains (80km away) could get to the city quicker than I could (22km away) all because I had no trains where I lived, and had to cross what I called “Harbour Bridge hell”. But it wasn’t the bridge itself that caused problems (afterall, there were dedicated bus lanes which moved relatively quickly) but getting off the bridge that was the problem. It would sometimes take 20 minutes to drive that last 50 metres to the York Street bus stop (that is no exaggeration!) “But you could get off and walk!” you say. Aha, but you are not permitted to get off since the there you are technically still on the freeway and the driver won’t let you off. Can you imagine how many people put up with that for YEARS? Many many thousands! What other choice do they have if they don’t want to pay for petrol, (now) $4 toll, and $30/hour parking.
I spent many of my student years writing to the relevant departments and authorities, and newspapers, with complaints and suggestions so to say I am passionate about this subject, is a big understatement.
Thankfully, my days of “Harbour Bridge hell” are over as I no longer have to cross it and now live 3 minutes walk to a train station which I use where possible. Otherwise, I drive, but I prefer not to because I’m a lean mean green machine (or try to be).
The recent introduction of pre-pay cashless buses in the city (M-F 7am-7pm) is a fantastic one! An idea I wish they had adopted years ago. The majority of people traveling in the city are business people or students so only a few would be inconvenienced. The cash payers hold up the buses so they end up running late, because the driver has to give change. In other countries I have visited, there is a dedicated person collecting money and giving back change and the ticket or they are ‘changeless’. You have to use a pre-paid card or pay using the exact change (or more if you don’t have it).
I could be here all day but anyway, I really got a lot out of those lectures. Even someone from the urban planning department of Sydney City Council was there so it was really interesting to hear everyone speak and discuss on this very important matter.
Here are some pics from that day:
We had to vote on which was the best idea to improve a situation or sign (ie usability) and this was my pick (gold star!).
* I designed this logo which is a parody of the “Public transport – together we’ll get you there” campaign (mentioned here). I turned the logo upside down and changed the wording.
Posted April 26, 2009 by Livia. Read related: events