Public Transportation App

Case Study: Imagining The Boring Company Public Transit Exists in Los Angeles

The Boring Company is an infrastructure and tunnel construction company founded by Elon Musk in late 2016. Musk has cited frustration with Los Angeles traffic and limitations with the current 2D transportation network as inspiration for the tunneling project. The aim is to dig tunnels efficiently to facilitate an underground transportation network. We did this project in order to imagine what the public transit app would look and feel like if The Boring Company's underground public transit tunnel comes into being.



March - April 2019 for 3 weeks


3 UX/UI Designers:

Myself, Iris Minji, Robert Walker

My Role:

UX/UI Designer, Research Lead


Sketch App, InVision, Marvel

The Problem

Los Angeles drivers spent an average of 128 hours stuck in traffic in 2018, which made it only the 5th most congested city in the United States. In 2012, Uber made tapping a button to get across the city feel magical. Today, public transit access with buses and trains still has a disconnected and congested customer experience.

The Design Challenge

How can The Boring Company imagine a mobile experience to complement a total transformation of the public transportation experience?

Our Solution

Our team researched and designed a public transportation mobile application that allows users to catch a ride on The Boring Company’s Loop system quickly and easily as they commute to work. We called this system, “Loop."

User Interviews

9 generative face-to-face interviews

We conducted this to determine the general consensus about public transportation with the focus being on was commuters in Los Angeles. Our primary findings showed that people often feel unsafe while using public transit, users want to buy & access tickets via mobile phone, and they also find public transit to be inconvenient & indirect.

Journalist #1

“Public transit needs to be fixed before I'll use it, it currently sucks.”

Journalist #2

"I don't use public transit outside of my normal commute because I'm too afraid."

Journalist #3

"It's annoying to pay $1.00 for the TAP card, and if you lose it you have to buy it again."

Features Implemented Based on This Research:

  • A safety button is always available during the ride to call for emergency, report an issue, or contact customer service.

  • This public transit system will start out being 100% mobile - users will buy their tickets & schedule their ride all on their phone. 

  • This Loop system goes from Point A to Point B, averaging 4 minutes per ride with no stops in-between, so the ride is fast & efficient.

User Surveys

30 responses uncovered that users want a clean, modern transit system


Primary Findings:

  • More than half of users would be interested in public transit if faster & cheaper.

  • Many users find public transit dirty.

  • 63% want ticket on their phone.


  • Competitive & Comparative Analysis

  • Heuristic Evaluation of Competing Apps

  • User Interviews

  • User Surveys

  • Secondary Research about Public Transportation

Secondary Research

Since public transit is so huge, secondary research helped guide our process. This data, conducted by LA Metro Research, covers a total of 18,000 riders. The findings from this supported our direction of focusing on creating a mobile application, making commuters our target audience, and emphasizing safety.

More than 50% of riders use transit to commute to work or school

69% of riders own a smartphone

65% use a transit app occasionally to very often

21% of riders feel unsafe on Metro Light Rail

User Persona: Meet Tina Transit

Based on our research, we created our user persona, who is a representative of the average rider of the Loop Transportation System. She embodies the goals and frustrations of our users - she just wants to get to work on time and have a good experience doing so.

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Tina's Journey Map Using LA Metro

We created a map to describe Tina's journey on her commute from Silverlake to Downtown Los Angeles using the LA Metro. From this, we found Tina's biggest pain points include difficulty with the existing app, crowds, and running late due to app and TAP card functionality.


Problem Statement Re-Defined

Tina Transit needs efficient, cost-effective, and safe

public transportation.


How might we create a mobile experience for her to utilize everyday on a brand new autonomous transit system?


Methods include a Design Studio; hand sketching frames and flows of the app; low, medium, and high fidelity prototypes; a mood board, and a style guide. The design studio was imperative and the multiple iterations we made based on user research created a better quality product.

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Design Studio

A Team Effort

To get the flow, I went through each step I thought a user would go through from beginning to end of using the Loop app. We then discussed it and made further adjustments. This really helped us imagine the user flow and the flow of the screens.

We then performed a design studio, then voted on the parts of the screen we thought were strongest. We combined these parts to form a cohesive low-fidelity wireframe. The design studio was so helpful for us - we realized we had similar thought processes on how the app would function and look. It also enabled us as a group to all contribute our own design ideas.

Low-Fidelity Prototype

We created a paper prototype, usability tested it with users, then synthesized the results with an affinity map to determine the changes that need to happen to improve the app. (3).gif


Since we had agreed upon how all of the screens would look during the design studio, our designer combined all of our sketches into one cohesive low-fidelity wireframe that was used for testing.

Usability Testing

Testing with 8 participants provided valuable insights. 


  • Users are unsure of cost of ride

  • Times need to more clear

  • Users wanted more detailed directions

  • Users want to fit ride to their needs


Synthesizing the Results

Affinity Mapping helped us unpack the feedback from users to discover our main findings. 

Primary findings:

  • The app needs to adapt to users needs 

  • Needs more clarity​

We adjusted the app in the next round of prototypes to account for these user-centered changes.

Medium Fidelity Prototype

Usability Testing (5 Users) & Synthesis

We created this prototype by focusing on feedback gained from previous testing. This mid-fi prototype was tested with 5 users, then we synthesized our results with an Affinity Map.

Primary Findings:

  • Users want options, such as changing payment method when confirming ride.

  • App still needs clearer directions, ​more consistency throughout, & more clarity for when to leave to catch Loop ride.

Since this method of transportation is such a new concept, we made our mid-fi prototype more detailed by having images and text.

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Mood & Style Guide

The colors we chose for The Loop app are neutral black & white with pops of Tesla Blue in various shades. The images represent modernity in public transportation & convey the feeling of a futuristic world.

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We chose the Proxima Nova typeface due to its use on The Boring Company website. Our buttons are rounded to emphasize the Loop branding. The Loop logo was created to convey a modern brand with the eternal loop serving as inspiration & to demonstrate how the Loop tunnel system is interconnected.

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High Fidelity Prototype

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High Fidelity Prototype Walk Through