Designing MARTA's Future at #MARTAhack

Last weekend saw the third installment of the yearlong MARTA Hackathon series, this time focusing on Rider Experience Design. This event challenged 510 registrants -- all hackers, designers, and creative thinkers -- to team up and take a crack at one of these three challenges: 

  1. Improve the rider experience between two stations
  2. Inform the MARTA mobile app roadmap
  3. Help riders view all aspects of MARTA as a viable alternative

The hackathon launched Friday night at The Garage with opening remarks from interim General Manager Liz O'Neill (her first official public remarks) before team captains shared their ideas and recruited teams. 

#MARTAHACK registrants by role

One of the #MARTAhack challenges required teams to conduct field research to improve the user experience of traveling between MARTA stops. They studied six stages of interaction: the Greeting, the Engagement, the Approach, the Wait, the Ride, and the Return, optimizing for a wide variety of riders. It can daunting since MARTA serves the needs of riders as diverse as Falcons fans, tourists, business travelers, students, the elderly, the differently abled, and more. 

Back at The Garage, other teams worked through the night to find ways to make MARTA easier to use and more appealing to a wider audience. They focused on MARTA's mobile app, prioritizing the people over the technology. Hackers considered questions like, How can MARTA be more helpful? More intuitive? Easier to navigate? 

Of course, none of it would have been possible without a team of MARTA volunteers and mountains of food generously underwritten by sponsors like Cisco, Lockstep Technology Group, TSA, and MailChimp.

A total of 30 teams finished and presented their prototypes to the judges on Saturday afternoon. This time around, contestants had two judging categories: Ideation (projects not involving code) and Implementation (those with code). 


Winner: NAVigators - Improve the design language of station signage and wayfinding.

Runner-up: Art in Transit - Capture MARTA' S artistic assets, share the collection's rich history, and root MARTA into the Atlanta arts scene.


Winner: Go/No-Go - Helping customers who do not use MARTA because they are afraid it is unreliable make a more informed decision about if MARTA will get them to their location on time.

Runner-up: MARTA Text - People that do not have access to a new smart phone will not have access to the routing information and updates that those with the MARTA application. This project uses standard text messages to talk to our patrons in order to give them the best experience possible.

This third installment of the #MARTAhack series was part of a yearlong strategic partnership between MARTA, Sandbox ATL, Code for Atlanta, and HackGT to leverage Atlanta's technology community to improve Atlanta transit. Read more about stops one and two of the journey, and stay tuned for what comes next, including an in-depth examination of the challenges, opportunities, and outcomes of this one-of-a-kind collaboration. 

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