University of Kentucky

Poster Title

Form vs Function: The Impact of Aesthetic Design on Bus Shelter Usability

Presenter Information

James Crouch, University of Kentucky

Institution

University of Kentucky

Abstract

A majority of United States citizens own personal vehicles, yet others rely upon public transit in order to make their daily commutes. Riders in Lexington, Kentucky often wait for sporadic buses under no or inadequate shelter. LexTran, the local system provider, in collaboration with Art in Motion, a non-profit organization, have coordinated efforts in an attempt to equip the city with more sufficient “art shelters.” We hypothesize that, while people driving past these shelters may consider them aesthetically engaging, several fail to deliver amenities such as support, comfort, and visibility to the intended group of users: the riders. The usability research distinguishes these features as vital for the creation of satisfying, ergonomically pleasing urban works. While formal elements of design inspire interest and admiration, they cannot be introduced at the sacrifice of more directly functional properties; a compromise must be reached. We aim to locate that perfect balance by incorporating both qualitative and quantitative data in the form of surveys, interviews, and impromptu focus groups. This methodology was motivated by a thorough review of engineering psychology literature. Our study has social, economic, and political value impacting both local and distant communities. The information we uncover can be used not only to govern tough design choices, but to determine the best means of allocating funds or laying out a city. Most importantly, it benefits the users who ride the bus every day.

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Form vs Function: The Impact of Aesthetic Design on Bus Shelter Usability

A majority of United States citizens own personal vehicles, yet others rely upon public transit in order to make their daily commutes. Riders in Lexington, Kentucky often wait for sporadic buses under no or inadequate shelter. LexTran, the local system provider, in collaboration with Art in Motion, a non-profit organization, have coordinated efforts in an attempt to equip the city with more sufficient “art shelters.” We hypothesize that, while people driving past these shelters may consider them aesthetically engaging, several fail to deliver amenities such as support, comfort, and visibility to the intended group of users: the riders. The usability research distinguishes these features as vital for the creation of satisfying, ergonomically pleasing urban works. While formal elements of design inspire interest and admiration, they cannot be introduced at the sacrifice of more directly functional properties; a compromise must be reached. We aim to locate that perfect balance by incorporating both qualitative and quantitative data in the form of surveys, interviews, and impromptu focus groups. This methodology was motivated by a thorough review of engineering psychology literature. Our study has social, economic, and political value impacting both local and distant communities. The information we uncover can be used not only to govern tough design choices, but to determine the best means of allocating funds or laying out a city. Most importantly, it benefits the users who ride the bus every day.