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AR Your Guide

Intuitive AR-guided experience to overcome your anxiety of taking the bus


The initial objective was to improve the public transit service in Pittsburgh. Our focus was the bus service, as it is the primary mode of transportation in the city. However, we found that many bus riders were apprehensive about using the bus system due to a lack of reliable and easily accessible information, leading to inconveniences such as getting lost or waiting for extended periods, especially for first-time or inexperienced bus riders.


Our team practiced User-Centered Innovation Methods throughout the entire process from research, ideation, prototyping and testing. We created an Augmented Reality feature like 'Pokemon Go' that can be integrated into existing transit apps. It provides users with intuitive, simple, and real-time live directions to guide them to unfamiliar bus stops and disembark at the correct location. Additionally, it instructs new bus riders on how to pay, track, and request stops. The purpose is to help riders adapt to the Pittsburgh Regional Bus Transit and take the bus with confidence and ease.

My Role   

Design Research, Concept Approach, UX Design, Pitch Deck Design, Presentation


Service Design

Design Research

Interaction Design


October - December 2022

6 Weeks


Pittsburgh, PA


Piper, Kaila, Sherry, Luke, Saisri, Mei, Ashish




Google Forms


The final prototype was tested with 10+ bus riders in Pittsburgh and received positive feedback. Our solution also received strongly positive feedback from relevant experts!

It was featured on the news of Mobility21.



Desk Research

Concept Mapping




PESTLE Analysis



Affinity Diagramming


User Scenarios

Task Flow Analysis

Value Opportunity Analysis

Decision Matrix

Dot Voting



Crazy 8

Concept Posters

Critique Sessions

Video Scenario




Rapid Prototyping

Usability Testing


Initial Brief

How might we improve public transit in Pittsburgh?


The Pittsburgh Regional Transit (PRT) operates a fleet of 700 buses, light rail, incline, and paratransit services. The PRT bus is the primary and one of the most affordable modes of public transportation in the city. However, the lack of reliable and predictable bus service can negatively impact a rider's schedule, causing them to be late for scheduled activities and leading to complaints from drivers. This often results in riders seeking more expensive alternative transportation options.


Over 37% of the CMU students are international students who have faced challenges while riding the bus, including finding bus stops, waiting for a long time, and not knowing when to get off the bus. These issues have caused great anxiety about taking the bus, often leading to choosing not to take it.

Not only are we facing the problems...

Focus Q: Why don't people take the bus in Pittsburgh?

Initial Hypothesis: The uncetainties and waiting times may discourage people from taking the bus.


To understand the trends and factors of the bus service and user experiences, we conducted both primary and secondary research. We also interviewed bus riders, bus drivers and experts to discover patterns and pain points related to rider behavior.

Exploratory Research


For our initial research, we utilized a Concept and Stakeholder map and PESTLE Analysis to gain a better understanding of the problem from a systems perspective. We realized that scheduling, frequency of buses, safety, accessibility and wait time are major issues that we can focus on.

Concept Mapping & 5 Whys

After desk research, concept and stakeholder mapping, and considering relevant Whys and Why Nots, we decided to focus on the rider experience.

PESTLE Analysis

The analysis revealed that accessibility, health & safety, innovative technology, uncertainty and sustainability are the key factors and trends of the bus service.


  • Only 55% of Americans have access to public transportation

  • For those who do, communication technology is limited, resulting in an average daily wait time of 40 minutes.

  • Bus drivers lack timely information and effective communication methods, which can lead to confusion, safety concerns, and budget constraints.

We interviewed the Program Manager of Traffic 21 who provided resources and knowledge about the current transit system and has 20+ years of transportation experience. She also acknowledged the complexity of solving public transit issues and suggested us choose an interesting topic.

Online Surveys & Interviews

36 Responses in Online Surveys

12 Interviews in Total

 2 experts 

→ 7 bus riders

→ 3 bus drivers

Key Findings:

  • 83% said that shorter wait times were crucial.

  • 80% selected bus frequency as a top priority.

  • 70% mentioned the importance of accurate bus information.

  • If a bus passes by because it's already full, it can have serious consequences in terms of a person's time and safety.


We used these data to identify areas where we could improve our product.

Observation & Role Play

We observed bus facilities, drivers' and riders' behavior regarding waiting, boarding, and riding and did the role play.


  • A lot of bus stops don't have stoplights, covered spaces, and lighting.

  • Some people didn't know how to pay the bus fee, which led to a more extended period of the boarding time.

  • The information on the screen inside the bus was hard to read, making it difficult to know when to get off.

We analyzed research data to understand user pain points and needs and created a list of potential product opportunities. We then narrowed down the list using decision-making techniques to identify the most relevant and impactful opportunities.

Through affinity and emotional mapping, we discovered that the accuracy and accessibility of bus information were the primary factors people did not choose to take the bus. These factors had a significant impact on the navigation, planning, waiting, and riding experience.


Target Users

Based on the Pittsburgh Regional Transit Fiscal Year 2022 Budget, we found that 28% of riders are students and healthcare workers, which drove