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Redesigning Metro system in the wake of COVID-19 pandemic

Project Details

4th Semester Design Project 

UI/UX | Service Design 

Under guidance of:

Prof. Partha Pratim Das


2 months (June'20-July'20)

Team (Solo):

Me, myself, and I

My role:

Research (secondary + primary),

Synthesis and analysis,

Service Blueprinting


Solution development,

Visual presentation,


Future roadmapping

Problem Overview 

Since the pandemic started spreading in the entire nation, the central government directed a strict nationwide lockdown to halt the spread at its earliest. Due to this, all services were shut down except for essential services.

DMRC (Delhi Metro Rail Corporation) is facing a similar shut down from March 21 to now (July 2020, as of date) due to which it is facing huge losses. Moreover, all the services have resumed and many people have been left stranded since the metro was essential to their daily travel. They’re now essentially left with two travel options: public buses (which are not reliable in terms of safety and time), and cabs/cars (which are not cost-effective.)

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How Might We restart the metro services in the pandemic such as it is safe for travelers to use?


Process + Research

The process until completion of project, on retrospection, can be divided into two parts:

1. Converging towards system redesign of Metro

2. Application redesign to support the new system

Part 1: The System 

Secondary Research

(Literature Review)

Primary Research






Solution Development

- COVID-19 pandemic

- Safety regulations

- Metro condition

- Alternative travel          options

- Travelling in pandemic

- Expenditure of 


- Hygiene practices

- System Gaps

- Present Journey +        Service Blueprint

- Pain Points

- Need Statement  

- Focus Areas

- Ideation

- Idea                    Selection  

- Refinement

- Future                Roadmapping

Part 2: The Application

Primary Research




Ideation of Concepts

Lo-fi + High Fi


- Existing usability of      application

- Existing metro habits

- Heuristic Evaluation

- Scope of                          Improvement

- Alignment of                Features

- Visual Design

- Information              Architecture

- Wireframes  

- User Flow

- Mockup


Overall, the research for this project has been a continuous process first to understand the problem and the user's needs, and then to solidify the ideation in the latter half of the project.

The initial research can be divided into three major subheadings as given below.

Click on the questions to open detailed research below:

Consolidated Findings 

Research Findings


Opening DMRC in its present state would be catastrophic wrt the COVID-19 pandemic


There's a need to open metro as both the corporation and people are facing difficulty due to its slow down.


People benefit from accountability as they themselves forget about personal hygiene caution such as wearing a mask


Currently, there is no known firefighting system that could replace the current system


People prefer transparency of system as it gives the assurance

Challenge 1: No existing firefighting procedure in place for a pandemic.

Opportunity 1: To redesign the DMRC services and provide a Standard Operating Procedure  

Systems Map 

Sol1: System Reboot

It lists down how a user will take and all the changes that will have to be implemented for streamlined service. Moreover, it gives the outer shell to Standard Operating Procedure which mentions the step-by-step instructions for DMRC employees.

systems map@2x.png

Standard Operating Procedure 

If all these measures are taken into place, then a situation should never arise wherein a COVID-19 patient is found on board the metro train. However, even after defying all odds, such a situation still arises, the following protocol will have to be carried out:

special sop@2x.png

Challenge 2: Low accountability as there's low front end employee-customer interaction

Opportunity 2: To increase front end employee actions for higher accountability of actions, and better execution 

New User Journey + Service Blueprint 

New Journey + Blueprint

Given below are the new User Journey and Service Blueprint respectively. They involve the same user as before. However, in this scenario, they’re travelling for the first time via metro ever since its lockdown back in March 2020.

The service blueprint lists the role of every employee and how the system will follow.
One thing that needs to be noted is how the front end employee actions have increased from 3 for 8 to 7 for 9. This has been done so that they're more proactive and the users are made to feel accountable in case they try to break any rules.

Scenario:  Priya Sharma is a frequent user of the services of Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC). He resides in Palam. She has a desk job in Gurgaon, which means that her usual route is Palam-Hauz Khas-MG Road. In this AU scenario, she is travelling to a new place, using DMRC’s services for the first time ever since its lockdown in March, 2020.

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Mobile Application Redesign: 

The Aiding Tool 

To support the proper functioning of the DMRC System 2.O, a rehash of the DMRC mobile application was deemed necessary to:

• Make it more adept for the system 2.O.

•  Improve the overall user experience by implementing changes in the present application

Group 626.png
Sol2: App Redesign

Research (for scope of redesign of app) 

To understand the gaps in the present application of DMRC, the following steps were taken.

Click on the headings to open detailed research below:

Pain Points 

Pain Points


Doesn't inform which platform way to go for route, and the colour of line


Multiple options for route not visible.


Takes extra effort for 2 major features Route between stations, card recharge


Alerts not linked, extra effort on part of user.


Space not optimised properly.


Doesn’t accommodate the needs of DMRC 2.O Design System


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Iteration: Phase 1 

Iterations + Feedback

In the phase-1 of ideation, I put together all the features of the existing mobile application, along with the new features that were essential to support the new DMRC System 2.O. 

The first prototype of the application were paper prototypes, which I used for an initial usability testing with 4 participants.

paper prototypes-01.jpg

Swipe for Information Architecture

Feedback Highlights 


Grow impatient when they can't complete a process in under 3 steps 


Prefer to use google maps location to find out nearest station as the existing position of the button is confusing and somewhat hidden


Do not like the fact that they have to open tabs to find information that could've been presented just as it is in the previous screen itself.

Iteration: Phase 2 

In the phase-2 of ideation, I started to combine elements together to make the application more simple and intuitive, I also employed the feedback from Ideation Phase-1.

The second  prototype of the application were digital wireframes, which I used for secondary usability testing with the same 4 participants.


Feedback Highlights 


Alert Colour taking too much of attention, and is hence distracting


Do not like the metro colour wise classification of stations, as many of them don't remember the station's colour.

Final Iteration: 

Visual Design 

With the consolidated data from all other ideation sessions, I started building the high fidelity mockups. Find the Alignment information, iconography, typography, and colour scheme below:


Application Features: 

Design Decisions

The solution 

The following features of the application have been highlighted so as to understand better what user needs the solution fulfills.



Route Between Stations

  • Can be accessed within 1 tap, rather than 3 taps like in the original design

  • Shows station colour beside the name so that user doesn't get confused between similar sounding stations at different lines.

  • New route can be searched from the second screen itself rather than backtracking to homepage, like in the original design

  • Route shows which side platform the user will have to take in case of an interchange, as requested by travelers in the app reviews. 


COVID-19 related


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  • QR Ticket generator for a touch-free transaction.
    Old metro cards will be automatically converted to QR Tickets, whereas new cards can be generated through the application itself.

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  • Aarogya Setu tie-up at the onboarding itself to make sure that no at-risk person is able to use metro. Only users who are marked 'Safe' will be allowed to travel. Others won't be able to generate the QR Ticket itself.

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  • Floating Alerts at the top that will be generated in case of metro delays, COVID scares, etc.

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Metro Card Recharge

  • Card can be recharged from within application itself, rather than a web-like browser like in the original application.

  • Saves previous recharge details to save time for quick form filling.


Nearest Station

  • Nearest Station shown at the very top, similar to applications like Uber and Zomato that show location like banner for maximum familiarity, and hence low cognitive load

  • Change Location and find out distance from the first screen itself- reduction in navigation by user.

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  • Trip Progress shown so that user can know whether they will be fined for delayed exit or not.

  • On 'Stop Ride', QR Ticket will be generated that will be scanned at RFID gate to end the trip.



Proposed Future Developments 

Future Developments

Considering the extremely serious nature of the situation, the unlock and implementation of the application shall be done in 3 stages (as given below) so that there's no community level spread of the virus. The system will move forward in stages if and only if it passes the previous stages 100%. If not, the system shall be called off until a better solution can be ideated.


Limitations of Solution 

• QR Tickets require change of technology across all platforms. Though it provides a hands-free approach which is considering COVID-19, it would also be an expensive approach.

• The success of the system lies heavily upon the people: those working at DMRC and those who ae travelling through the metro. A lax approach on their end for their security could hamper the whole system.

Key Takeaways 


• This project was my first introduction into the world of service design. It was refreshing to extend into this domain and learn about new tools such as Service Blueprint. It gave me an insight as to how to include the service providers a bit more into the design. Doing so can help you figure out whether what we’re designing is even feasible or not.

• Absolutely no amount of re-evaluation is enough. The more you review, the more refined the end process becomes. Had I signed off on the project the first time it was ‘complete’, the project wouldn’t have been the same.

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