Doctoral dissertation

Elina Hildén : Human-Centered Design Tools for Better Intra-City Bus Travel Experience

Elina Hildén
Today, we live in a world where mobility is a part of the everyday life. At the same time, there is a global need for cities to be smart and sustainable. People spend increasing amounts of time traveling, and thus the development of public transportation services is central for achieving these goals. In order to make public transportation services desirable for wide audience, all aspects of the services need to be designed with a focus on the passengers’ and their needs and experiences.

In her doctoral dissertation, Master of Arts Elina Hildén studied bus passengers’ needs and experiences regarding future traveling services. The thesis presents a series of qualitative studies conducted with Research for design approach to gain understanding of intra-city bus passengers’ travel experience: preliminary interview study, idea generation workshops, in-depth ideation workshops, and bus travel diary study. These studies involved a total of 68 bus passengers representing different age groups and backgrounds from two city regions in Finland: Tampere and Helsinki.

The research was conducted over the period of three years between 2016–2019, as a part of a research project Living Lab Bus (LLB). The research on user experience perspective of bus passengers resulted in five publications which form the basis of the compound thesis.

While there is a considerable amount of research conducted in the public transportation field, there is a lack of qualitative studies that contribute to the understanding of the travel experience of intra-city bus transportation from the User Experience (UX) point of view.

“The goal of this research was two-fold: first, to gain insights of bus passengers’ needs and expectations for intra-city bus related services and to create holistic understanding of the intra-city bus travel experience. This forms the theoretical contribution of my dissertation. The second aim of the thesis work was to transform these insights into practical and visual format. This part of the research resulted in a set of design tools, enabling the findings of this research to be utilized by different stakeholders when developing and designing services for the public transportation context. This practical contribution is presented in the form of Travel Experience Toolkit (T-rEX), including four design tools that support the service development in different stages of the design process”, Hildén explains.

The Travel Experience Toolkit consists of Bus Travel Experience Model for understanding the context, context Cards for diversifying ideation, passenger Journey Map for exploring service touchpoints, and Experience Personas for getting to know the passengers. These tools bring Human-Centered Design knowhow to different stakeholders working in the transportation context, with the aim to enable the design and development of services that fulfill the needs and expectations of bus passengers. As a final study, a multi-stakeholder evaluation of T-rEX toolkit was conducted with four public transportation stakeholders, to gain understanding of how the toolkit serves different stakeholders in their public transportation service development.

This thesis contributes to the field of human-computer interaction (HCI), with a more specific focus on User Experience (UX) and Human-Centered Design (HCD). In addition, the practical aspects of this research contribute to the field of service design. This thesis also provides a theoretical contribution to the travel experience and transportation field, viewing the topic from human-centered design perspective. The theoretical and practical contributions advance the research and design of future digital services for passengers and can help make public transportation more attractive.

The doctoral dissertation of Master of Arts Elina Hildén in the field of computing engineering titled Studies on Travel Experience of Intra-city Buses: Supporting Service Design with Travel Experience Toolkit will be publicly examined in the Faculty of Information Technology and Communication Sciences at Tampere University on Friday 30.10.2020 starting at 12 o'clock in Tietotalo building auditorium TB109, Korkeakoulunkatu 1. The Opponent will be Professor Turkka Keinonen from Aalto University. The Custos will be Professor Kaisa Väänänen from Faculty of Information Technology and Communication Sciences.

The dissertation is available online at

The event can be followed via remote connection:

Photo: Ville Eloranta