Case Study

BART: The Transit Experience

  • Transportation
  • Any Experience

Gaining insight into the transit riding experience in partnership with one of the biggest public transportation systems in the Bay Area.


BART and AC Transit had thousands of data points from their survey teams on the “rider experience.” However, they needed help extracting information from fields of data. EchoUser partnered with the BART to add a human perspective to the rider experience challenge.

It's the seams that matter: connection points between systems are most likely to produce friction and degrade the rider experience.


Data without context is difficult to interpret, so we proposed the following: a multi-month user research activity focused on in-person ride-a-longs to collect human, personal sentiments regarding the transportation system and its use.

01_BART Source

We deployed our researchers to accompany BART riders on their daily commutes and ask targeted questions. While placing ourselves within the live environment of the rider, we were able to capture more honest and accurate responses from participants, and pick up on the sentiments that charged their answers.

Dozens of user experience issues were identified and observed over the many ride-alongs. Riders’ top issues included cleanliness, safety, transferring, cost, and timeliness of trains. While riders care about the basics, time and money spent, they cared more about what contributed to the ride as a whole, or in other words, the trip experience.


By the conclusion of our engagement, we discovered that BART and AC Transit riders are a tolerant, resilient bunch. Not only is BART experience more than riding the train itself, but a process that includes taking the BART, a bus, a taxi, and even walking to get from one destination to the next.

While we uncovered pain points regarding the rider experience, the transit experience is encapsulated by the many facets of getting to and from any destination, including those outside of simply being on a train. We reported these quantitative and qualitative findings back to BART management to help them better understand and cater towards their dedicated riders.

Services Used