By Elise Marc
Being a nineteen year old University student who works on one side of town, lives on the other, goes to Uni in the city and doesn’t yet have a driver’s license means I rely heavily on Melbourne’s public transport system. The online journey planner function saves me daily from running late and serves it’s purpose perfectly; it provides clear instructions on how to get where I want, when I want.
The same cannot be said, however, about Public Transport Victoria’s new iProduct app. And after just a tiny amount of internet research, it’s clear that I’m not alone in this viewpoint.
The Metlink app, does have a few redeeming features. However they are hidden away in the depths of menus, confusing interfaces and map screens in perhaps the most unlikely app locations. That is, most necessary features are indeed available through the app, however they seem to be a thousand times more complicated and convoluted than needed.
For example, using the ‘Plan Trip’ function indeed allows for the selection of a specific train, tram or bus stop. However to select a stop, the screen opens onto a ‘recent page,’ which of course will be empty on first use, with the ‘stops’ list small in the top right corner rather than in an obvious place. Thankfully, once you’ve found the list, it’s more simple to find your stop.
This example may not sound overly frustrating, however a public transport app should be designed for efficiency and speed. I know when I use the app I’m usually speed walking from my house to the tram stop trying to figure out how long I have before I’m late for my entire day’s activities. With an app that takes about five minutes to work out in the first place, this isn’t exactly ideal.
Train timetables are too hidden away in the ‘more’ menu, an option that one would expect to be the most popular three screens into the app.
However, in Metlink’s defence, they do provide a ‘next 5’ option, in which you can select a station and find the next five options for transport and their times.
The app includes all necessary aspects a good public transport app requires, however it is purely the interface that is complex and perhaps needs to be re-prioritised. With a re-design of the app, rather than a change in content, Public Transport Victoria could be celebrating an iProduct success rather than the current public dissatisfaction.