Washington D.C. Metro

An Invisible


by Daniel Huffine and Andrea Owens

The Challenge

Design a new system that allows daily users and tourists to access the metro on time without having a physical metro card on hand.


Mobile App





Public transportation across the globe is moving to digital contactless payment, and the DC Metro plans to follow suite by 2020.  

Metro's first foray into app development has the opportunity to simplify the current fare payment system and make general metro navigation easier for residents and visitors alike.

During our preliminary research, we found that even

long-term DMV residents struggled to understand the convoluted fare system and were also frustrated by the lack of real time information on construction and delays.

Our goal was to create an app that simplified:

Fare Payment,

Trip Planning


General Metro Navigation

Take a stroll through Metro's new app!​


The App

Key Features

Link your account to a credit card for worry-free payment.

Pay your fare by tapping your phone.

Plan your metro trip.

Get live updates on delays.

Link your account to multi-use NFC stickers.

The NFC Stickers

Though digital payment is the future, many aren't ready for an entirely digital solution.  NFC stickers are the perfect solution for luddites, tourists, and Debra who never remembers to charge her phone. 

How do they work?

Exactly like the current Metro Card but better! Stickers can be purchased at any kiosk and can be used for a single ride, saved for multiple rides, or even linked to your Metro app for long term use.  Buy your sticker, tap it at the Metro entrance, and you're on your way!

Why stickers?

Our research showed that metro riders often worried about losing their Metro Card​ and hated the hassle of taking it in and out of their wallet or purse.  Stickers solve both of these problems!  You can stick them on anything: your coffee cup, your watch, your forehead... whatever is easily accessible and hard to lose.


Why this is exciting!

(To me at least.)

The DC Metro is already using NFC technology in their current Metro Cards, and it's the same technology used for mobile tap payments.  By using the technologies Metro already has in place, we are minimizing the infrastructure changes necessary to implement our solution.

On top of that, stickers are fun!  They give Metro riders the ability to customize their Metro experience by turning anything into a Metro Card.

The Kiosk

Our hope is to eliminate the need for a kiosk by providing a comprehensive mobile solution, but until that dream becomes a reality, a simplified kiosk is a necessity.

The current kiosk is incredibly confusing.  As a frequent Metro rider, I have never successfully determined the exact amount a Metro ride will cost using the kiosk.

Our new kiosk integrates a more streamlined version of our mobile app, allowing users to easily determine the Metro line they need to take, what their final stop will be, and exactly how much their trip will cost.


What I learned.

Way too much about NFC.

How to develop and design for personas.

Effective user testing disciplines.