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Mastering service design for the masses

4 April 2017

For decades Sydneysiders have demanded an efficient, integrated public transport system, a challenge which UTS Master of Design student, Hanan Bou Akl, was ready to tackle as part of the course’s Service Design unit.

“The brief was to provide evaluations and service solutions to a current problem faced by the government, so as a regular user of the city’s already stretched public transport system I felt that a fresh perspective was long overdue,” explained Hanan.

Two people standing in front of train timetable screen boards

Screen boards & route maps with timings.  Image credit: Hanan Bou Akl.

Interviews with commuters across Sydney’s largest stations including Central and Parramatta, uncovered alarmingly low levels of customer satisfaction among current passengers:

“Many of the people I interviewed shared similar sentiments about the strained network being at capacity and that it struggles to provide commuters with a reliable, efficient and affordable service.”

Trip planning detail of future state map. Notes on paper.

Future state map working draft. Image credit: Hanan Bou Akl.

After conducting research and exploration studies, Hanan developed a proposal which includes the introduction of a Unified Trip Planning app offering express or regular rides, a reward program plus the ability to book seats and carriage types such as family-friendly online, all using a card or smart phone. 

“What really stood out of Hanan’s proposal is how a human-centered approach to service design can potentially reform Sydney’s ailing public transport network,” says Tom Lee, course director for the Master of Design program.

“By targeting the several pain points felt by commuters in a methodical manner, Hanan has created a network that addresses the most common gripes felt by current commuters,” he continued.

Her design also focused on simplifying the interior space of stations to provide an easier flow of traffic, with multiple entry and exit points directly from each individual platform, plus fast and slow walking lanes.

2d illustration representing typical train station journey map. Detail.

Detail from a typical train station journey map. Image credit: Hanan Bou Akl.

“Successful communication and design is a result of research, case studies and experimentation. Design is never a personal taste; it always comes out as a result of the subject matter, a solution to a specific problem or an answer to a brief,” reflected Hanan.  

The experienced visual designer who does freelance work in Beirut, was always destined to work in the creative industry, being raised in family of photographers and artists.

“For six years I worked for international advertising agencies such as Leo Burnett and TBWA in Lebanon, which allowed me to understand and value the role of design and communication for social and behavioral change.

“Design has the capacity to change environments and processes to serve humanity and the public in a more efficient way."

The UTS Master of Design is led by Tom Lee