Suggestions for Metro: TVM Software Updates

Early last week, I wrote about some updates coming to the TAP Vending Machines used across the Metro system. The new designs are a work in progress, which will be followed by software programming, and Metro wants to get some feedback before they finalize them. To see the current stage of the designs, check out my last post, here.

Based on my own thoughts, and many of the comments I received on the last post, I’ve put together a short list of some important suggestions and a few sample designs that tweak what Metro’s already done. I’ll send these over the to TAP team, but also want to get some public feedback to ensure that I’m not the only one who thinks these are improvements.

Below are my suggestions (and just to clarify, these screenshots are things that I have edited based on Metro’s designs, there are NOT the current designs they are working on, to see those, please view my last post).  Read more of this post

Much-Needed Updates to TAP Vending Machines Are In The Works

If you’ve ever stood at a TAP Vending Machine, wondering where to start, how to continue, or when the transaction is finished, you may be pleased to hear this news: The TVM screens and software are getting a refresh.

Give credit to Metro, they understand that the current TVMs are confusing and have put together some new teams of people to address the problem. I was invited, along with some other bloggers and journalists, to view a preview of the new screens. At this point, it wasn’t a working beta on an actual machine, but the visual and experience design for what the process would be. The great thing about this meeting is that it was not a media presentation showcasing the finished new system, but rather a sneak peek at the in-progress ideas. Metro is stressing that these designs are not final, and that they want feedback on them as they continue to change and revise them before rolling anything out.

A sample of the new TVM screen design.

A sample of the new TVM screen design.

Right up front, I see a number of improvements:

• A status bar at the top shows you how far through the process you are.
• Colored blocks help to separate options.
• On-screen arrows and letters help identify the physical buttons that correspond to each option.

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Someone is Listening: 7th Street / Metro Center Upgrades

Someone must be listening. About a month ago I wrote a post claiming that the screens at the 7th Street / Metro Center Station were poorly placed and could — with simple content changes — be much more effective for riders.

Last weekend, the most important of these changes were made.

Some banks of screens at 7th Street / Metro Center now show departure times for all four lines at the station.

Some banks of screens at 7th Street / Metro Center now show departure times for all four lines at the station.

The screens closest to the tracks on the upper level now show both Red/Purple and Blue/Expo departure times. So, when you get off the Blue or Expo Lines, you’ll be able to quickly see how long you have to get downstairs and make a transfer.

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TAP Cards: How to make them truly smart

As Metro begins moving toward a locked-turnstile system on its rail lines, TAP cards are going to be even more important. It’s going to be in Metro’s best interest to convince users to make the switch from paper tickets to TAP, and it’s going to be in the users’ best interests to do so. Still, there are a few things that can make TAP cards even better. They call them “smart,” but right now there’s not a lot smart about the cards, so here’s how I think the system can be improved: Make them automatically convert to 1-day, 7-day, and 20-day passes when the card’s use hits a certain price threshold.

My tap card says "Smart. Simple. Secure." But is it really all of those things?

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