Mumbai Rail Maps at Bandra Station

One of our interns Hriday Gami from Department of Design, IIT Guwahati visiting railway stations to casually interact with different kinds of users and the way they read the map to extract information. People were asked to search for Bhivpuri road, railway station less likely to be know.

Hriday shares his experiences with us:

I asked one of the users, a young man in his early twenties who was already looking at map, to guide me to Bhivpuri Road. He said he is new to the city, but asked me the name of my destination again. I told him, Bhivpuri Road, and strangely he shifted all his attention towards finding my station on the map. After scanning the map briefly two or three times he headed straight for the index. It seems he was new to the city, but not new to maps. He found Bhivpuri Road in the index and read the number 12 against it. He was quick to figure out that 12 was the box number as there were no other numbers displayed on the map. He pointed his finger to the map and said its the station before Karjat. (This user was new to the city, but probably not new to reading maps. He was quickly able to decipher how to draw information out of the map and the relationship between the different components of the map.)

In my interactions with another user, I asked the same question, “where is Bhivpuri Road and how do I get there?”. He was reluctant to answer at first. He said he is not familiar with the railways. Even then, he scanned over the map twice for Bhivpuri Road, though unsuccessfully. Surprisingly he told me to look for Bhivpuri Road in the index, as surely if its a station it will be listed. I found the station and told him that it says number twelve next to it and has an orange box. He managed to figure out that the number indicated a box number on the map and was quick to point out the location of Bhivpuri Road. (The user, who was a resident of Bandra East, was not new to the city, but probably new to maps, yet he was able to figure that I will find my station in the list of stations.

I observed a man, maybe in his forties, tracing train routes with an envelope in his hand and looking intently at the map. I approached him for directions to Bhivpuri Road. He knew exactly where the station was and pointed it out on the map. He said I’ll have to take a train to Dadar, change to central line and take a fast train to either Karjat or Khopoli. This person is a resident of Mumbai and is extremely familiar with the rail network. I asked him where he was going, and he replied said he was waiting for someone at the station. (Why was he looking at the map? Was it to update himself about the network? Was he trying to revise his knowledge about the map?)

After interacting with these users I decided to take this a little forward and find out how difficult it is to teach a user to read the map. I asked another person where Bhivpuri Road was and how can I get there from Bandra Station. He started looking for it on the map, I slowly guided him towards the index and asked him if it could be here. He immediately started searching for it alphabetically (Hindi Map), and found it under ‘Bha’. Then he wondered if the number against Bhivpuri Road was the distance from Bandra but was quick to correct himself on that thought. This time I asked him what the number was and he was able to know that the number stood for the box. He located box number 12, then Karjat and then Bhivpuri Road next to it. Then of course, he guided me through the journey saying I’ll have to take a train to Dadar, change lines and take the Karjat train.

Another observation was that at Dadar station, people standing in queue for the tickets tend to observe the map and if they are with someone they strike a conversation about their journey.

People will learn, let them get familiar. If it is useful they will use it. Two weeks after installation, no tampering, no vandalism. Everything intact. - MRM Team. Love Mumbai