HSL’s huge ticket and zone renewal was implemented in cooperation with customers

HSL’s public transport moved into a new era in April 2019, when zones A, B, C and D replaced the travel zones based on municipal boundaries. 

HSL zone renewal case hero

Solita’s multi-skilled team provided HSL with comprehensive support in the large-scale change, which had a direct impact on more than a million passengers.

The new public transport zones of the metropolitan area took effect on 27 April 2019. The scale of the change was massive, and preparations for it took several years. The entire public transport service needed to be re-designed, from the strategic level all the way to practical details. The change extended to everything from ticket products and sales channels to communication materials in both digital and physical channels.

Solita’s design unit served as HSL’s comprehensive partner in the renewal, contributing to the design of the new zone model, including:

  • HSL ticket app and journey planner

  • HSL card reader’s new user interface

  • Ticket machines’ new user interface

  • Zone maps and website

A change of this scale was an intriguing challenge for the designers. HSL transport provides nearly 400 million journeys annually, and the services are used by all age groups, from the very youngest to the very oldest. Accounting for a customer base and service range this wide required particularly comprehensive design. The goal was to give customers a clear and consistent picture of the services, regardless of whether they were using the mobile app or a printed map. The challenge was all the greater because of the sheer number of technical and political constraints limiting the design.

HSL and Solita’s response to this challenge was to plan it in close cooperation with the customers. Solita team made up of more than 10 people took part in the design of the zone renewal over a period of three years. This allowed for an in-depth and comprehensive design process, in which customers’ needs and wishes were reconciled seamlessly with HSL’s objectives.

  • Customer-driven design method
  • More than 200 co-design interviews and usability tests
The work that Solita’s concept designers, visual designers and digital specialists have done on the interfaces is nothing short of superb. Surveys have shown the usage experience of the zone renewal to be uniformly easy in all the different purchasing channels.

Eeva Jakobsson Project Manager, HSL

HSL app

The app has quickly become HSL’s most popular ticket purchasing channel – it can already be found on nearly 1.4 million phones, and its monthly sales amount to more than EUR 10 million! And no wonder – it offers a very convenient way to find the right journeys and buy the correct tickets for them.

The ticket required for each journey becomes clear in connection with a journey search or ticket purchase, and the purchase itself can be made with a couple of clicks. Customers are also provided with information tailored to their individual needs, such as information on transport disruptions.

Solita analysed the needs and designed the structure, visual look and user interface for the HSL application. They also took part in the front-end implementation.

HSL app

HSL card reader

The transition to the zone model offered a natural opportunity to renew the card reader’s user interface. The work began with the determination of the design drivers and constraints, as well as a careful review of the feedback elicited from the users of the previous user interface. Palmu carried out the customer knowledge work, user interface design, visual look and usability testing of the card reader’s user interface. The outcome is a card reader that works seamlessly as part of the overall system.

HSL card reader

Ticket machines

Due to the zone model, the user interface of the ticket machine also needed an update. 

For the sake of consistency and clarity, the user-driven improvements and changes made to the visual look of the card reader also had to be accounted for in the ticket machine’s design work. 

The end result was an easy-to-use and visually pleasing user interface solution, which guarantees smooth ticket buying and card loading for both regular and occasional passengers.

HSL ticket machine

Zone maps and the website

As part of the information for the new zones, we also designed the zone maps used in both the digital ticket selling channels and the station and stop info. In addition, we designed a website which provides clear and understandable information on the ticket and zone renewal.

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HSL zone maps

Excellent results

The ticket and zone renewal was carried out in April 2019. In June 2019, HSL carried out a survey among its customers to find out how successful the renewal had been. More than 60,000 customers responded. The results left no room for guesswork: from the customers’ point of view, the renewal was a great success, and they’ve found it easy to make ticket purchases through the different channels. The success is also apparent in the number of journeys made since the renewal, especially on the metro.

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