DC Metro

How can we encourage commuters to choose more eco-friendly modes of transit?







3 weeks

February 2020

UX Designer

Mobile app design, wireframing, prototyping, service design

Adobe Photoshop, Adobe After Effects, Figma

Alexandra Daniel, Thomas Freeman, Marshal Turner

We created a points program to encourage DC riders to take eco-friendly public transit routes and improved their existing mobile app.


Image source: Project Workplace

The Challenge

CO2 emissions are rising, and much is due to transportation emissions from cars, SUVs, and pickups. Public transportation in Washington D.C. has hit an all-time low due to construction work and a rise in vehicle ownership.

The Opportunity

Further Washington D.C.'s reputation as a leader in sustainability by putting it at the forefront in circular design for transportation. Regain the trust of riders the city has lost due to construction, rise of vehicle ownership, and the popularity of rideshare. 

The Solution

Create an incentivized program to encourage commuters to take public transit eco-routes in exchange for discounts on metro fares.

An eco-friendly Metro App

A new and improved SmarTrip experience

We re-designed the current transit app experience, working primarily off of the existing DC Metro app and bringing in elements from the Metro and Bus app, Transit, and Citymapper. We designed a tiered-based points system that would allow riders to earn points on eco-friendly transit routes in exchange for discounts on metro fares.



Introducing Eco-Points

Earn points on eco-friendly trips

Eco-friendly transit routes are marked by the leaf icons and fall into three tiers — heavy rail transit (Tier One), light rail transit (Tier Two), and bus (Tier Three). The more eco-friendly the route, the more points you earn. For example, Tier One represents the most eco-friendly route, which is Heavy Rail Transit, where the rider earns 100 points per passenger mile for that trip.

Pick your eco-route

Map your trip and pick your preferred sustainable route


Plug in your starting location and your destination, and browse through the variety of routes available for you. Listings are ordered by length of wait time from shortest to longest, and riders can also check fare prices and tiers for each route.

Earn eco-points

Build up your points for every trip

Once you've selected a route, you will earn points for that trip based on how many passenger miles traveled and the associated tier for that route. In the example, this trip is 9.3 miles and is a Tier One (most eco-friendly route) which allocates 100 points per passenger mile, so we've earned 930 points. These points are added to your personal account.

Redeem your eco-points

Earn discounts on metro fare and help save emissions


You can redeem points from your personal account to transfer to fare credit. This can be useful for topping up on your Metro card. Choose from set amounts or enter in your own amount. You can see total points for your own personal rides as well as how many emissions have been saved city-wide.


Image by Mollie Sivaram

On climate and transit

Researching the facts and the future


CO2 emissions are rising, yet ridership is decreasing. Transit use fell in 31 of the 35 largest metropolitan areas in the country from 2016-2017. In seven of the US's largest cities, 24% of riders decreased their transit use in 2018, 15% from "all the time" to "occassionally." 9% abandoned it all together. Don't blame Uber, blame private transport — 54% of respondents in these same seven cities had full time car access, just 43% in 2016.

Source: The Washington Post, Wired, Transit Center

Choosing our city

Beginning with the nation's capitol

Washington D.C. is a national leader in environmental initiatives, being the first LEED Platinum City in the World, and operates as a hybrid city for its population of over 2 million. Most residents still opt to use a car, despite having a well-established metro system. The city also enacted the Clean Energy DC Act — the nation's first 100% renewable energy bill and the most aggressive climate change legislation in the US. According to data from 2018, 68% of residents rated the Metrorail positively, up from 42% in 2017.

Source: US Census Bureau, Washington Post

Image by Andy Feliciotti
Image by Adi Goldstein

Our goal : get travelers to choose the better transportation options by providing an impactful incentive.


Program Rollout

We created signage for our program to be placed OOH by bus stops as well in the metro stations themselves as well as introducing our new program through an updated website. 


We talked to real D.C. residents to get an understanding of the population and transit trends. After this first phase of user discovery, we mapped out our user's current journey (as shown above) and used it as a foundation to plan out the steps in our prototype.


We created wireframes based off of Bryant's original daily commute route.

User Feedback

-Strategic setup and personas were great and both helped sell the idea. 

"Overall this reminded me a bit of the days when if you bought a more high efficiency appliance for your
home (washer/driver, water heater, fridge)."

"Love the public transport angle and how [you] incentivized the eco-
friendly route"


Image by Tbel Abuseridze


Designing for topics you're not an expert in


This was a very challenging assignment because of the nature of the topic. Climate change is something that is complicated and nuanced that people spend their lives studying, and to try and come up with a viable solution in 3 weeks was daunting. My team found ourselves getting stuck over the scientific sides of the puzzle until we realized that wasn't where our strength was or where we could have the most impact. Once we were able to narrow down our problem to something we could tackle, we were able to come up with something we were proud of.

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