Impact of bad UX in the physical world

UX in Italy: 18 screens to buy a train ticket

I was in Cinque Terre region in north eastern Italy for a week last month. It is a UNESCO Heritage Site and I definitely recommend it, especially if you like hiking.

Part of our plan was to take trains to neighboring towns and do one-way hikes. Every time we approached the train station to buy our tickets, we ended up seeing a long line of tourists and locals queued up, waiting in 95F degree weather frustrated.

Each ticket sale through the kiosk took an average of 2.5 minutes from start to finish. To understand why, take a look at the screens I had to navigate through to get two tickets (with no mistakes, or navigating back)

For a country that leads the way in design, I was really disappointed to see this user experience. I am hoping that it will be improved for my next visit next year.

Here are the screens of the kiosk machine:

Step 1. Choose your language


Step 2. Just a warning


Step 3. What do you want to do?


Step 4. Where are you going to? There are no options here but you can tap to type the station name.


Step 5. Ok, let’s type the station name. Notice the redundant “Arrival”


Step 6. When? Wouldn’t it make sense to list the next few trains on the top of this screen to cover at least 80% of the use cases with one tap rather than selecting a date AND a time slot?


Step 7. Wait for it


Step 8. Here are a few trains or you can choose to see “all the solutions”. There is no explanation of what “2nd class” actually means. 


Step 9. Just checking we are still cool


Step 10. You actually cannot get an assigned seat, but this screen just pop-up with 0 alternative flows. 


Step 11. One of the few screens that actually make sense.


Step 12. Just checking you are ready to purchase it! I understand the corporate code/business use case, wouldn’t it be easier to get that out of the way in the beginning by understanding the intent?


Step 13. A warning


Step 14. How do you want to pay?


Step 15. Put your card in


Step 16. Let us process


Step 17. Take your card out!


Step 18. Finally take your ticket and go :)


Hopefully someone will do something about this sooner than later but if you are planning on a trip to the region and want to take the train factor in an extra 15 minutes or so, since the lines form and grow very quickly.