Problem - Standing Alone
In the growing taxi line at Bangkok international airport, I wondered who else was heading to the Khao San road. “Probably many” I thought, but there was no way to know. Asking everyone in line would be a disturbance, but as a solo traveller, the mileage and cost of a whole taxi to myself just didn’t make sense.
We’ve all travelled alone at one point or another and we all probably waited in the taxi line with others who were going within a kilometer or two of our final destination. So why do we insist on the wasted mileage and empty seats? Major cities usually only have a few areas that are frequented by tourists, chances are you and your taxi line neighbour are going to be neighbours in the city too.
Public transport, though usually effective, have blackout periods. Flight’s at 8am? You’ll have to take a taxi. Arriving in Rio at 12am? You probably won’t want to get off the metro and walk around Lapa at 1am alone.
Then there’s the environmental perspective. Most airport rides take anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour to get into the city, some long if there’s heavy traffic. Sharing a car with just one other person cuts your footprint by half.
Problem: taxi seats are often left empty going to and from the airport. How can we support the local taxi economy while also giving people affordable ride share options?
Solution - Being The Connector
After looking at what others have done we wanted to create something that had all the best elements. A few things that we identified from surveying was that people were hesitant about their safety and some were nervous about the social interaction. Airbnb and Uber created a more structured platform, with a lot of intervention of the company. Couchsurfing and BlaBlaCar however, simply acted as connector. This led us to think about how we help create pre-established connections between people, to make awkward part of seeking a taxi buddy a bit less awkward. We loved the idea of working with local transportation services, as the controversy surrounding Uber is well known. To vet our users we drew on BlaBlahCar, Couchsurfing, and Airbnb - by using reviews and ID verification.
The idea we ended up with was AirShare. Users can share trips or search for trips by selecting airport, scheduled arrival, and destination neighbourhood. We also considered upgrades where users could arrive, set up a trip, and alert other users in the same area of their journey. From there, you are brought to a messaging portal where you can see limited info about the other person until you confirm the ride. Meet up locations are suggested.
After talking to some people we were able to isolate a few functional and visual flaws. Which we integrated into the high fidelity mock ups below.
One regret we had during this project was the lack of time that was had to further test the ideas and prototypes. Real life interactions with strangers inevitably contain an element of risk and requires extended measures to prevent danger. Additionally, the survey population, gathered with limited time and resources are primarily comprised of youth aged 18-30, and does not paint a full picture of the potential targeted group.
This project was a great learning experience for many reasons - it gave me an immediate and intimate opportunity to work across disciplines, with a team of varying skills, in a fast paced environment. There was a lot of back and forth between me and our developer, who worked with the language Swift. It was the first time I had to design with a developer in mind. The communication I developed with our developer, Gary, throughout this project has later proved to be extremely helpful when working with other teams.