Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART)

Redesigning the BART app to make the rider experience half a million daily users better.  


Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) has provided public transit for the Bay Area community for over 45 years. With almost half a million daily riders, BART connects users to their destination - from the San Francisco and Oakland hubs, to the suburban areas of Alameda, Contra Costa, and beyond. As the Bay Area’s population swells and technology advances, the BART team has looked increasingly to digital solutions to create a seamless, enjoyable experience for all riders. 

The Problem

Plenty of transit apps give real-time BART information, so we wanted to aim big - finding ways to offer value beyond simply listing train schedules. We helped BART see an opportunity to provide Bay Area commuters with a personalized transit experience. We worked with the  BART team to envision an application that would provide riders with quick access to relevant information based on their location and commuting habits.  

The new BART app would do more than list train schedules - it would map the fastest travel route, including BART, bike, and other forms of transportation. By giving the public a great travel tool, BART would create a direct connection with its riders. This was a critical outcome for the BART team, who saw a clear need to communicate directly with BART riders. Riders can get up-to-date information about delays and other service impacts.  The app would also offer riders robust information on each station, such as accessible paths for those in wheelchairs, bike storage, and  parking information. BART plans to add direct feedback channels to the app that will allow riders to report actionable maintenance requests directly to BART staff.

The Approach

The BART app is the product of a collaboration between the BART team, TransSight, and Exygy. Exygy led the application’s research and design. TransSight led the engineering work. 

In order to design a system built for real BART riders, Exygy began by building proto-personas to more fully understand riders’ needs. 

Commuters are the most common riders on BART. By designing the mobile app with riders like Carla in mind, we were able to more clearly articulate and design for the needs of commuters.

In addition to designing the BART app in alignment with riders’ needs, we focused on crafting a service that would meet the long-term needs of BART as an agency. BART was looking for a timeless design that didn’t require frequent updates, allowed for the integration of future features, represented the BART brand, and was iOS and Android compatible. 

Riders can now use the BART app to plan trips that involve walking, biking, Muni, and other forms of transportatio

Our design team worked to make the app intuitive and accommodating for all riders. Our user research showed that the app’s design needed to adapt seamlessly to riders’ individual travel plans.  BART’s new Trip Planner aimed to meet the needs of their riders by offering trip planning between multiple forms of transit. For example, a commuter could use the BART app to bike to a Muni bus stop, take the Muni to a BART station, and ride BART to work. As BART states, “The new Trip Planner includes 31 transit operators and provides interactive, personalized itineraries using the many modes of transportation and transit the Bay Area offers.” 

Features included in the app:

  • Real-time departures, schedule timetables, and fare calculator
  • Station information, including information on secured bike parking and car parking
  • Escalator and elevator advisories
  • Real-time service disruption information on the Trip Planner
  • Step by step navigation with personalized preferences and saved favorite stations and trips
  • Ability to plan a trip using more than one of the transit systems in the Bay Area such as bus service, ferries, cable cars, and regional train systems
  • Easily see the last train of the evening by station when planning a night out or trip home from the airport
  • Report a Biohazard feature for items and messes that need immediate cleanup
  • Spanish and Chinese translations

The Impact
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As one of the busiest rapid transit systems in the country, BART continues to face rising pressure to meet the needs of an ever-increasing Bay Area population. In order to address those demands, BART has continued to invest in building a contemporary transit system that is in tune with the needs of their riders. The BART app - a direct communication channel between riders and BART staff - has the potential to enhance the experience of all riders, ensuring that their trip is safer, quicker, and more reliable. 

As BART improves their rider experience, they are investing in building lasting relationships with commuters who incorporate BART into their daily lives. As more people use BART regularly, this app has the potential to have a lasting impact on the Bay Area. BART will continue to be a source of affordable, accessible public transit, as well as provide an alternative to fossil fuel-dependent transportation. 

Through creating a public transit system that riders trust, BART is working to build healthy, resilient, and environmentally sustainable communities for years to come.

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