A new ticketing system for bus passengers in Brazil

Client: Setransp
Designer: LiveWork
Location: Brazil

In 1998 the city of Goiânia decided to ban any money transactions inside its local buses and to implement a pioneering ticket based public transport in Brazil. More than a decade later, service design agency Livework was commissioned to renew its business model. The aim for the public transport organization Setransp was to come up with the best possible journey for its users and to renew its status as the national reference by defining new technology.

There was a time in Goiânia that buses had, apart from its driver, a person responsible for charging users inside buses to let them pass the turnstyle and use the service. Back in 98, they were removed in favor of the new ticketing system but in order to do so, the drivers union fought (and won) against putting drivers to the role of selling tickets. The challenge of this project thus was to design a new ticketing service while bus drivers where only allowed to drive. So what if passengers don’t have tickets when they get on the bus?

In order to solve this issue it is important to understand how the service is structured. Across the entire city there are fenced bus stations that consist on free transit zone where, once users have paid to get in, they can hop on and hop out of any bus lines they want. By using those stations, passengers are able to pay only once and get from and to any place in the city, since every bus passes by, at least, one of those stations. But that still leaves us with the ‘no-ticket passenger issue’ in street bus stops. In order to solve that, it was decided that passengers could stay in the space between the entrance (front door) and the ratchet until they got to a terminal, where they would disembark in a closed zone to buy their tickets or, in smaller terminals, wait for sales representatives embark in the bus to sell them the tickets – a fix that came along some years later but imposed many operational issues.

As though the fix seemed as a good idea and kept operating for many years, passengers learned how to use it in their benefit. For instance, in rush hours, the buses that have their front area crowded with people that will only purchase their tickets on the bus station, passes straight by street bus stops, since there is no more space for more passengers, even if the much bigger back has plenty of space available to accommodate more people. So that’s exactly what many users try to impose as a situation since they know they will get faster to their destination – and causing terrible losses to the operation and frustration to the passengers that are waiting in the bus stops.

What did they do?

When Livework was called to rethink the public transport ticketing system they set out on a journey to understand passengers lives and what felt as right and wrong in the service. The system had gotten so complex as a result of an evolution of the early days that the only way to really and completely understand it was creating a current blueprint with annotations. The foundations was set for the creation of the new service.

Our team ran a couple of co-creation sessions with users and stakeholders to explore new directions and a final prototype with different types of passengers in order to test them. During the prototyping session users had to simulate their journey throughout the day and use multiple reviewed touchpoints.

What was the result?

The result were multiple ideas and points of views. Livework aimed to understand the organization’s and user’s perspective and then use Service Thinking knowledge to come up with the best possible model.

By working closely together with Setransp specialists and users of the system the designers were able to design a brand new and much more desirable user journey for passengers while fixing issues that were considered unsolvable. And while for the company running the operations it may represent an enormous amount of daily savings, to its users it certainly means a more pleasant, simple and fluid experience after all. The implementation of the new system will position Setransp as a key player in the sector again but and will affect positively people’s lives.


To find out more about this case study please contact Luis Alt at LiveWork.

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