The sun was shining, yet barely through the partially but still mostly clouded sky. The entire ground was soaked with a recent shower of precipitation that fell from the sky. There was a slight brisk flow of wind nipping at my uncovered skin as I stepped out of our pearl white Mazda 5. We arrived at the Sandy Civic Center Trax station a tid bit confused. Initially we attempted to make uneducated guesses of where to go and what to do. One train was sitting on the tracks, the windows were tinted sufficiently that from our perspective and distance it was impossible to know if the train was full or empty. After a brief discussion with my wife I decided to just venture out in search of further light and knowledge in regards to how to use this train. A relatively short distance away stood a small octagon shaped building that appeared to be either where an individual much like myself might would purchase a ticket or perhaps a reliable place in which a person much like unto myself might per chance be comfortable to propose a question. I might even say that this octagon shaped building gave the perception that a person much like unto myself would have a sufficient amount of trust that their questions would most definitely be answered. Much to my shagrin as I made my way in haste to this building it was indeed EMPTY.
Several questions began racing through my mind. Was I supposed to sit and wait for the train to open it’s doors? When the trains doors were open would that reveal more obvious answers to my questions? Might there be a ticket scanner on the other side of those closed doors? Was there a ticket scanner on the outside of the train doors? Where would a human similar to myself purchase a ticket? I anxiously cast my vision abroad looking for some type of signage that would provide me with the helpful information my heart yearned for. As confusion began to envelope me and frustration began to overtake my faculties further impeding my ability to make calm and sane decisions, I approach a man who was also standing near the train much like myself. However, this nice young individual was standing and gazing upon the vast lot of asphalted land which was generously filled with vehicles of travel. With a confused look on my face I muttered, “How does this work?”
The cleanly shaven young man stood with a square chin and sincere eyes that reflected a similar amount of confusion, mostly due to the poor choice of words that tripped its way off of my tongue. He stuttered a response, “The train? Have you ever used it before?”
I quickly and confidently responded, “No, I mean yes the train. Where do you buy tickets?”
The man was nice, eager, and willing to help. Patiently he began explaining where the different electronic ticket booths were located. As he spoke his arm was extended with his index finger firmly pressing forward as he circled round about. Then he even offered me the day pass that he purchased explaining that it was good until a specific time, and he was already through using it. I then explained in further detail, “Well, my work badge is supposed to allow me to use the train.”
The gentle man with a scruffy beard and dark brown eyes turned my attention to a small metal post protruding from the concreate that pathed the very ground in which we walked. It was skinny and rectangular in shape and had a yellow sign with large black san-serif letters that appeared to be in ITC Avant Garde reads, “TAP ON/TAP OFF” with a large black arrow pointing upward to a small yet sufficient sized digital screen. The burly bearded figure with long flowing hair, pointing to the object said, “Just tap your badge on that and it should work.”
We both walked over together and I pulled my work badge out of the inside pocket of my black polyester suit jacket. The flesh of the backside of my right hand brushed softly against my soft black cotton sweater as I slipped into the pocket to retrieve my work badge. I placed it on the sufficiently sized digital screen precisely where that large black arrow was directing me. Sure enough a digitally enhanced beep rang through the cool crisp February air and a green check instantaneously appeared on the sufficiently sized digital screen. Still confused I looked back and the strange old bearded man and said, “Now what?”
He softly explained through his bearded face that I just needed to walk up to the door, press the button on the outside of the door and carefully walk up the steps into the train.
I carefully followed his instructions, and to my amazement I successfully boarded the train and found a mostly empty train with ample blue clothed seats to rest my wearied yet eager to sieze the day soul.
A Terrible Beginner User Experience
This proved to be a terrible beginner user experience. The Trax works perfect for an experienced rider, in fact you only really need to ride the train once to become an expert. Yet there’s plenty of things wrong happening here. I’ve ridden the Trax a handful of times now, and each and every time I either heard someone asking similar questions I had, or they asked me those questions. You shouldn’t have to rely on nice young yet old bearded smooth faced strangers with a square jaw to offer up a ticket and solutions to be able figure out how to use the system.
I rode similar public transportation in the fruitful lands of Sao Paulo, Brazil. In this far far away land you have to actually purchase a ticket before even walking through a gate that swiveled around 360 degrees to where the public form of transportation resided. They also make it very painfully obvious when the public transportation device is ready for travelers to venture off onward in their pursuit of happiness. The doors all open.
Now, you can find me riding the rails with supreme confidence ready and willing to help the rest of the confused beginners. Let’s hope that this story reaches you before you anxiously strike off on your maiden voyage to set this world on fire (figuratively not literally).