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How can we improve MARTA’s current methods collecting data for the Quality of Service Survey to create more actionable recommendations?


MARTA Atlanta Public Transit System


3 months


Lead User Experience Researcher, Research Manager, & Designer


the solutions overview.

We created a toolkit for MARTA to ideate and implement changes. Based on feasibility and resources required, we created short-term, intermediate-term, and long-term solutions that targets multiple pain points that we uncovered from our research.



Optimizing the survey can improve pain points:


  • Survey Fatigue

  • Limited time to collect data 

  • Questions are confusing, redundant, and disorganized

  • Gather the right information for the right reasons

Improve Data Explanations  

Revamping the annual report, implementing a collaborative
data dashboard, and including a public information campaign can address the following

pain points:​

  • Un-actionable analysis and obscured relevance 

  • Untrusted insights throughout the org

  • Public under utilized as allies



Supplementary feedback from the MARTA app and can improve pain points:

  • Inefficient data capturing processes 

  • Demographic questions are half of the survey questions

  • Timely feedback for MARTA services




* Can be Implemented almost immediately without high cost or time*

*Requires more resources
(time, funding and process changes)

*Will require the most resources (time, funding, and process changes) to implement.

research overview.
Alexandra Nguyen Contextual Inquiry

How can MARTA collect

information to improve

methodological efficiency

& effectiveness?

  • Stakeholder Interviews

  • Contextual Inquiry

  • Observations



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How can we optimize the

survey questionnaire content to more accurately capture the voice of the customer?

  • Artifact Analysis with Affinity Mapping

  • Think Aloud

  • Participatory Design



What change is collecting and

analyzing this data supposed to drive? How can it be analyzed and presented to support that goal?

  • Stakeholder Interviews

  • Artifact Analysis 






Background & Context: MARTA Processes
Alexandra Nguyen Contextual Inquiry

How can MARTA collect information to improve methodological efficiency & effectiveness?

With stakeholder interviews, contextual inquiries, and field observations, we created process flow diagrams process and empathy maps of our users to help give us background and context, inform our designs, and identify pain points of the current processes.

high level current

processes Flow diagrams

Based on our research, we created a high level process flow diagram to identify the current steps of the process to help us understand MARTA's processes.

High-level process flow diagram.png

*Please see this link to review for more detail.

Service blueprint of survey

We also created a service blueprint to identify more granularly the steps of the survey administration process. Information denoted in red are pain points that we have identified in the current system.

Service blueprint-Survey administration.

*Please see this link to review for more detail.

informing design WITH EMPATHY MAPS

Based on our interviews and contextual inquiries, I created empathy maps for surveyors and also patrons. This was used to communicate our understanding of our users and see their world from their point of view. When designing and provided recommendations, we kept these in mind to help ensure that we address the problems and understand their context.

Survey Redesign Overview
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How might we optimize the survey questionnaire content to accurately capture the voice of the customer?


A) Artifact Analysis with Affinity Mapping

B) Think Alouds with Survey Designers

C) Focus Group Participatory Design Sessions with Surveyors



Recommendation toolkit to redesign the survey

Artifact analysis with affinity mapping and Think Alouds

Survey Questions.jpg

INSIGHT: Half of the survey questions are demographic questions (purple stickies). 


reduce the demographic questions or find another way to capture this data?

I created an affinity map with every single question on the survey and grouped them under categories. (Yellow stickies were questions on the rail survey, whereas green stickies were questions on the bus survey. Purple stickies were asked on both surveys.)

We also conducted a Think Aloud Session with Survey Designers to understand the reasons why each question was asked. This helped us and the survey creators understand and justify why each question was asked.

Participatory design focus group

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Justification & Reasoning




Surveyors work directly with the riders on the field and know which questions are problematic for them and for patrons

Surveyors want to be involved and were very keen to provide rich feedback


Once questions were grouped and categorized with affinity mapping, we asked surveyors to add stickers to each question to identify if the question was:

1. Unclear/confusing 

2. Redundant 

3. Not always applicable

4. I don't like this question


Then, we asked them to fill out a survey on their own and conducted a short group discussion. We wanted to understand their opinions and recommendations. Since it was a focus group, they were able to bounce ideas from each other and also defend their answers.

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We relayed this information to MARTA with feedback from the Surveyors to help them reword question, consolidate/remove questions, and create better survey logic for survey redesign.

Improving Data Explanations


What change​ is collecting and analyzing this data supposed to drive? How can it be analyzed & presented to support that goal?


A) Stakeholder Interviews

B) Artifact Analysis with MARTA Reports


A) Annual Report Revamp

B) Data Dashboard

C) Public Information Campaign


Stakeholder Interviews &

Artifact Analysis

Robin Salter

Senior Performance Analyst

  • Analysis Process

    • Survey Design

    • Methodology

    • Think Aloud

  • Data Collection

    • The QOS Survey

    • Adjacent collections (PES Etc)

    • Passive Collection

    • Mining

  • Reporting Actionable Insights

Robert Goodwin

Director of

Research & Analysis

  • Defining Actionable Data

  • Information Dissemination

  • Power & Decision Making Structures

    • Who

    • Pressures

    • Expectations

  • MARTA Initiatives

  • Data & Analysis Trust in MARTA Org

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Pain Points


Data doesn’t speak for itself.

Even perfect data is appears pointless without being framed.


The burden of analysis falls on R&A, and thus predicting what insights the rest of MARTA wants.

There is a lack of diversity of perspectives applied here. 


Insights are novel, but to be converted to understanding require presentation in context. 

The best context to frame in is one that leads to actions: goals for the organization.

To be a data driven, MARTA (the board) must make clear what it is driving toward 


Mutual understanding is the basis for trust, and transparency shares understanding with more parts of the organization

MARTA has a disconnect between stakeholders that can be addressed with exporting this trust to the Board, MARTA core employees, and the Public.

Annual Report Revamp

Artifact Analysis
of Annual Report
  • Annual report is organized around how the data is collected, stored, and it’s inherent traits, rather than change or maintenance goals for MARTA

  • Reading & absorbing the report critically requires some data literacy

Summary of Artifact Analysis
  • Leaves readers searching for relevance and meaning that actually affects or empowers them

  • Reading the report shouldn’t be a pain point: the target audience should feel their job would be harder if they didn’t read the report.

key features


Removes burden of finding what is relevant to the reader

More focused navigation

Relevancy driven reading

Links insights to known goals to make them clear

Provide recommended actions

  • Timelines (Short, Medium, Long)

  • Effort levels/contingencies )Minimum, Target, Reach)

Remove burden on user to find what is relevant to the them and why

  • Change report organization orientation from “subject” to:

    • Departmental and Board driven Initiatives

    • Actions needed & recommendations

    • “Tell me everything I need to know. Don’t tell me everything”

Improve navigation speed for both explorers and queries 

  • Leverage “tags” and hyperlinks to other parts of the document or outside resources to allow for: 

    • sorting and filtering 

    • non linear, many to many navigation (wikipedia style)

    • Internal citation of appendices of sets fo graphics

    • Links out to contact people, departments, or generally take action

  • Make it easy to quickly review at a high level  (cursory read of, or “skim”)

    • Wikipedia mobile style of content header expansion and roll ups

*All feasible in Microsoft Word*

Data Dashboard

Key Features

Stakeholders submit “Hypothesis Cards” to the dashboard system

  • Tag department’s known goals or initiatives

  • Define & suggest relevant information or data they are aware of:

    • Cuts and breaks

    • Data points

    • Data types

    • Misc contextual info

R&A team members create understanding through visualizations and infographics

  • Tied to specific “Hypothesis Cards”

  • Propose “Insight Cards” based on infographics by posting them to a forum/online wall​

The board & vertical heads

  • Propose “actions cards” tied to insights with details on what actions that should be taken when by whom

Other stakeholders can also propose:

  • R&A are the analysts, & lead the charge

  • Insights are interpretations & up for discussion 

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Creating data trust with a collaborative insight dashboard


Stakeholders given (limited) input

Less wasted efforts & guesswork for R&A Team

Data backed decisions

Faciliates interim feedback

Reconciles different frames of reference

Solicit Stakeholder buy-in

Actionable outcomes

Public Information Campaign

key features


Get credit not criticism

Galvanize Supporter & Riders

Manage expectations between MARTA & Riders

Convert transparency to trust

Align MARTA with citizens's need to efficacy and impact of efforts

Easy to implement

  • Use space MARTA already owns and controls

  • Printed poster based

  • Good communication graphic design will matter a lot, but is just a matter of a good hire


  • Initiatives and their progress or upcoming milestones

  • What is MARTA doing for me now? In the future?

  • Town Halls, impactful votes coming up

    • Info on upcoming events content

    • Jow to attend or participate

      • Empower your ridership to become advocates for MARTA

    • Impacts to MARTA

  • Contextually relevant 

    • To the location the information is posted

    • The timing of posting AND removal

  • Political action groups organize for & against civic initiatives. with information campaigns that explain value propositions to incite support

  • MARTA’s current need to grow hinges on public support.

Summary Assessment
  • MARTA has reasons for changes & non changes but public doesn’t know why, transparency matters to the public ridership

  • Marketing is powerful, & inexpensive; MARTA owns perfectly targeted ad space (stations & stops).​

MARTA App Redesign


  • A consumer facing app that combines Marta On the Go & Marta See & Say App

  • Indirectly help surveyors because it is supplementary to the QOS survey


A) Competitive Analysis

B) Low Fidelity > Medium Fidelity > High Fidelity Wireframes 

Pain points

Survey is long and the surveyors have time constraints to conduct the survey

​Demographic questions are difficult to capture. Patrons and surveyors both feel uncomfortable talking about these questions in public settings

​It takes time to analyze and report the feedback from the QOS survey

​MARTA does not have updated service changes

Design goals


Gather demographic and MARTA service data related to Breeze Card


Give surveyors more time to ask questions regarding MARTA services

​Provide patrons with a convenient MARTA app, keep them updated with service changes and encourage them to use MARTA

Design Iterations

Concept Sketches
Low Fidelity
Medium Fidelity
High Fidelity

Final Prototype

Click here for the interactive prototype

KEy features

A) Automatic Data Capture 

1. Breeze Card Registration

When patrons register their Breeze Cards, the app can automatically capture questions of the QoS regarding their payment information, frequency of use, and destinations and thus reducing questions on the QoS for surveyors.

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2. User Profile

When registering their Breeze Cards, patrons will be required to have a user profile. This profile can capture demographics questions which also reduces survey questions for QoS surveyors. In addition, people feel more comfortable answering the questions on their personal mobile devices instead of being in public.

“Demographic questions are uncomfortable for me to ask and uncomfortable for patrons to answer.” - Surveyor

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Immediate high-level feedback

  • The app will push notification to remind users to give feedback after they take MARTA.

  • MARTA can gather immediate high level feedback.

  • MARTA can also tie the feedback data to the other demographic data to generate more insights


Overall, with this mobile app, we hope to divorce the concept of surveyors capturing demographic data so they can focus on capturing the voice of the customer. This solution also reduces the length of the current survey. Capturing immediate high-level feedback can help MARTA focus target on these high-level problems and create more granular research questions for their analysis and reporting seen in the intermediate term solution.

Survey Questions.jpg


Overall, with this mobile app, we hope to divorce the concept of surveyors capturing demographic data so they can focus on capturing the voice of the customer. This solution also reduces the length of the current survey. Capturing immediate high-level feedback can help MARTA focus target on these high-level problems and create more granular research questions for their analysis and reporting seen in the intermediate term solution.

Survey Questions.jpg
Additional Value

1. Language


Language Options.png

2. Combining See & Say App

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3. Mobile Payments

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4. Real Time Updates

& Notifications

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What's next?

Possible ways of implementing the design:

  • The app will need resources in mobile app development and related MARTA infrastructure
    (e.g., Breeze Card registration, mobile payment, schedule update). 

  • MARTA has two apps for riders and MARTA website also has contains service change updates. Combining all of this information on a mobile app can make information more accessible to patrons


Areas of improvement:

  • Future user testing to improve the usability of the app

  • Possible improvement to current MARTA infrastructures

Special Thanks

Special thanks to all the MARTA employees: Rob, Robin, and all the surveyors that we shadowed! 

Meet the Team!
Yangxin Xue

UX Designer

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Jason Paul

UX Designer

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Alexandra Nguyen

UX Researcher

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