Pittsburgh’s public transportation system, known as Pittsburgh Regional Transit (PRT), has had shortage in services over the past several years in response to worker shortage problems because of the COVID 19 pandemic. As a result of worker and service shortage, there has been an increase in customer complaints, addressing the need for technology to enhance the current experience in using PRT’s services. The current PRT experience is complex and segmented, especially due to inefficiency in communicating bus operation status, information unavailability, and lack of assistance presence. As the majority of the population is dependent on its services for traveling in and around Pittsburgh, it is crucial to fill in the gaps in services by incorporating conversational assistant as part of its refined experience.
Before going in depth with reimagining the PRT experience, we questioned why implementation of conversational AI would be important as part of improving public transportation services.
After investigating existing PRT experience and communicating with current PRT users with their pain points, we were able to identify four main consequences in the current experience:
- Inefficient communication
- Complex progress of purchasing bus fare
- Information unavailability
- Lack of assistance presence
In order to resolve these issues, we were determined to achieve three main aspects as goals of this project:
- Making the passengers feel safe and secured
- Providing informative experiences through live updates and information about the local area
- Offering accessibility assistance, which aims to provide passengers with getting assistance through different languages, getting on the bus, and etc.
We aim to implement conversational assistant to enhance the experience not only for commuters who are using PRT’s services but also for bus drivers who are operating PRT Services bus drivers as well.
As our next step, our team questioned how to design the voice assistant by thinking about the kinds of characteristics and tone of voice that would be most appropriate to align the goals of this project. In order to facilitate the process of connecting the users and our intelligent agent as part of refined PRT experience, we defined characteristics of the voice assistant to be reliable, approachable, and amicable.
Through this process, we were able to reimagine Pittsburgh’s public transportation experience by creating Ollie, a conversational assistant that provides an intuitive one stop solution for all inquiries related to bus operation. Through dynamic and interactive engagement, Ollie collaborates with the users to connect currently segmented public transportation experience to become holistic and comprehensive. Ollie’s approachable and friendly attitude aims to make information accessible and keep users informed during their trips anywhere, any time.
Introducing Ollie as part of Pittsburgh’s public transportation experience, we hope to increase the rate of public transportation usage in Pittsburgh and create delightful moments of traveling by public transportation.