Rethinking Paratransit

The aim of this project was to improve senior citizens' and their care taker's experience in using Pasadena Transit's Dial-A-Ride service. Providing the users with real-time tracking of the vehicle and helping seniors book a ride to their destination

What is Dial-A-Ride?

Dial-A-Ride is a shared, curb-to-curb transportation service provided for senior (above 60) or disabled residents in the service area. 

Members call in advance to schedule their trips; reservations are taken between 1-5 days beforehand.

initial research

Area Research

Dial-a-Ride service has the heaviest concentration of members in Northwest Pasadena and Central Pasadena where there is a higher density of senior and assisted living facilities.

usage statistics


Medical Trips

Medical trips are the most common trips type comprising over one-third of all trips scheduled.

Recreational Trips

More than half of all trips are for social, recreational or worship activities.

1 %
1 %
Senior centers
1 %
1 %

Ridership Characteristics

Senior Riders
riders with Mobility Impaired or Some disability

Group Ridership


  • Daycare group trips to local senior citizen facilities


  • City’s adaptive recreation program
  • Ability First participants
  • Foothill Food Bank


  • Shopping Trips to Target


Insights from Interviews

"I really need the bus to arrive on time"
Group Caregivers
“Booking a ride 5 days a head is ridiculous.”
Individual Rider
“Security and comfort for riders are my priorities.”
Individual Caregiver
“Riders cannot contact us directly, They have to contact DAR office.”
Dial-A-Ride Drivers

The Problem

Limitations faced by senior citizens, disabled people and their caregivers due to the analog manual operating system of Pasadena Dial-A-Ride.

Possible Solution

A digital screen-based service for Dial-A-Ride users and their caregivers to enable them to book a ride anytime, anywhere and get real-time feedback.

Lean Canvas


Improve the ride experience of Dial-A-ride service for residents in Pasadena, San marino, Altadena, and the other unincorporated Los Angeles Country areas who are senior citizen or for those who are disabled.


Create a safe, reliable, seamless and exemplary service with an efficient and automated experience for citizens with no access to regular transit.

needs and wants of the users

I need...

Information about my ride

Reach my destination on time

Special Assistance when I go out

More flexible transit option

I want...

To attend events or workshops

To attend meetings

To be able to shop comfortably

The drivers to be nice to me

Behavior Continuums

after synthesizing the user interviews we tried to map them on a behavior continuum to find common groups or clusters

So we figured that there three major groups in the ecosystem with some sub-groups. Based on our lean canvas and other supporting research we decided to keep Individual and Group Caregivers as our Primary User, Individual Riders that need assistance whenever they travel as our secondary user and Individual Riders that don’t require assistance as the tertiary user. Group riders more so often do not interact directly with the service as the group caregivers take care of everything for them so we will move on from that user base for the scope of this project.

Primary User

Caregivers for Group/Individual Riders

Secondary User

Individual Riders without Assistance

Tertiary User

Individual Riders with Assistance

User Personas

User Scenario


Jeane calls her doctor to tell him that she is in pain and wants him to see to it. The doctor asks her to come in to his office tomorrow at 3:30pm


Worried, Jeane calls her son, Anthony, to tell him about it. Anthony will be at work so he cannot take her to the hospital.


Anthony immediately opens the app as it is already past their office hours. He adds his mother into the riders list before starting to book. Then he enters the pick up time as 2:30PM, pick up location as her home and drop off location as Huntington Hospital. He gets a confirmation of booking.


Jeane is relaxed when she gets an automated call telling her about the booking and text message with trip details which she can refer to in the future.


The next day, Dial-A-Ride bus comes to pick her up and Anthony gets a notification for the same and he can track the bus for his peace of mind.


Anthony also gets an in-app notification upon his mom’s arrival at the Huntington Hospital and now he can completely focus back on his work without any worries.

User Scenario


Nancy, the manager of daycare center received the new group of members this week for Alzheimer class. She needs to log in to the DAR web system to arrange the trip to pick them up from their home based on weekly schedule. 


She created a new group and set up the trip schedule for them.Then the system confirmed the trip detail of each riders.


Monday, Nancy got phone call from Chan, who is in that class, informing her that he won’t be able to make it. So she removed Chan from tomorrow’s trip.


On Tuesday, During her busy work, she gets the notification on her dash board telling her that now she can track the ‘Tuesday Alzheimer class’ group’s status. She looking to the map and it clearly shows each riders’ status so she felt relived and goes back to her work.

User Flows & Information Architecture

Based on the user scenarios it was pretty clear that there had to be two channels for this service and we also were able to map out the actions and tasks that the users need to perform

User Flow

Web App Information Architecture

Mobile App Information Architecture

Low and Mid Fidelity Mockups

We started with paper prototyping to test the user flow in order to move to the mid-fidelity prototyping stage where we further tested it out to get insights

Mid-Fidelity Mockups

Mobile - User Journey

This is a user journey mapped out in the click through prototype for caregivers to book a ride and track the bus.

Web - User Journey

This is a user journey mapped out in the click through prototype for Group Caregivers to book a group ride and schedule further rides.

More Process!

You can read more in-depth about the research in my research document that I made for the team

The Team

Interaction design

Siladityaa Sharma

media design practices

Tianlu Tang

interaction design

Darae Kim

interaction design

Feng Ye


Interaction Design 3


JD Buckley


User Research, Paper Prototyping, Marvel App, Sketch, Adobe XD