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HSL: Future-proofing public transit services

To make sure public transportation in the Helsinki region continues to best serve the rapidly growing cities in the area, HSL, the Helsinki Regional Transport Authority, wanted to take a look at different answers to the above question.

The challenge

HSL strives for better customer satisfaction, now and in the future. As an important part of achieving this goal, HSL wanted to discover how public transportation and its payment systems could look in 2030. HSL chose us, a trusted partner in its digital development, to help it think differently.

Outcomes and impact

  • Scenarios combining technological and eco-social views: practical input for decision-making and future work.

  • Collaborative creativity: more agility, motivation and readiness for inevitable change.

  • Comprehensive outlook on the future of public transportation: understanding the customer’s perspectives a decade from now.

What we did

HSL is a technologically mature organisation and already has a large amount of background information on the subject. We started by co-creating a comprehensive list of megatrends as well as public transportation, ticketing and payment trends with an impact on how society functions, different ways of travelling, and ticket payment and validation methods. The project’s aim was to create scenario materials that could later be used to help passengers participate in the process.

Next, we facilitated the first workshop with the HSL team consisting of customer experience and design, sales and technology experts. The team voted for the most significant trends to start creating scenarios with. The teams analysed the trend sets we had collected and selected the ones that seemed most important to their design problem. We formulated these as key topics and built a future chart, where we outlined possible outcomes for each topic.

Futurice gave us motivational tools and out-of-the-box thinking for creating scenarios and passenger profiles. There is a big difference between when the employees themselves can participate in the creative process and just reading someone’s view on the future. We see a lot of opportunities for using these methods in the other areas of our development work, and it would be interesting to also engage our customers in the process. An outside view is always good for a genuinely customer-oriented transformation.
Viivi Lehtonen
Service Designer, HSL

In the first workshop, we went through our topics and their possible outcomes to form the basis for two scenarios. In two smaller teams, we imagined what the world would be like with this set of outcomes. We also imagined the kinds of customers that would be happy with a certain set of outcomes, as well as who would not.

In the second workshop, we discussed the megatrends and let the team choose the two most important outcomes of the two different scenarios - i.e. one outcome per scenario. By combining the outcomes, we could specify how the world might look in each scenario.

For the third workshop, we had put together two scenario stories where we described the future states from a future customer perspective. In the workshop, we continued to analyse and enrich the worlds, zooming in on the process of ticket purchasing and validation. After the drafts were co-analyzed, we created the final versions of the scenarios with a different customer profile for each one.

Why it matters

Based on the scenarios and customer profiles, HSL can proceed to participatory future work and discussions with its customers about the different possibilities for making ticket purchase and validation even smoother and safer in the future.

About HSL

HSL is the joint municipal authority that maintains the public transportation network of the nine municipalities of Greater Helsinki, Finland. The organization oversees the operation of all of Helsinki's public transportation, with the system consisting of local buses, trams, metro, ferries, commuter trains, and bike-sharing. People make approximately 370 million journeys on HSL’s transport services annually.

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