Michael LoPreto

March 2020

New York City Subway App



  • User Research
  • UX Design



New York’s MTA is the country’s largest transportation network, consisting of subway, bus, and rail systems. The MTA connects over 15 million people across all of New York’s boroughs and the surrounding area and is looking for a new app to support the rollout of their new service, OMNY.


New Yorker’s are always on the go and don’t like to be inconvenienced. They race around and rely on public transportation to get them places on time and affordably. Both residents and visitors expect public transportation to act reliably and provide alternative options when it doesn’t.


Improving the MTA is outside the scope of this project, however, I wanted to ensure New Yorkers had resources allowing them to move about their city quickly and effortlessly. Later versions of OMNY will include more features but for the purpose of an MVP, a mobile ticketing system was paramount.


Living in New York, it would have been easy to impose my thoughts on this project, but I removed myself from the process and learned what experiences people have with the MTA. User interviews became the foundation of my research and informed much of the design process. Two main personas emerged: “The Confident Rider” and “The Amateur Rider”. They vary in their knowledge and comfort with the MTA but they share common needs and challenges. Both typically stick to subway and bus lines they are comfortable with but the Confident Rider navigates the city based on experience whereas the Amateur Rider relies on apps to provide information. Difficulties with the machines or annoyances with lines were a low point of their journeys and became the focal point of my solution. I wanted to provide a way to pay for a MetroCard on their mobile device and give them an opportunity to automatically refill their cards, eliminating the need to wait in lines thus reducing pain points in their journey.

Design System

User’s remaining balance (or expiration date of an unlimited card) will be prominently displayed on the Home Screen. “Refill your card” is the first option provided as research indicated this was a major pain point. User testing brought several iterations of the flow and language used in this process. Ultimately, some language was changed from what the MTA currently uses. “Value” and “Time” options were changed to “Money” and “Time” with “Value” serving as the overarching title. In order to design a feature that allowed users to auto-refill their card, I looked at how similar companies executed this flow and what language they used. Overall, I kept the branding and aesthetic of the MTA’s current app to provide a level of familiarity to the users. For the MVP mobile ticketing was the most important feature, however, future releases will have an improved system of bus and subway alerts, providing further control over a riders ability to confidently and effortlessly use the MTA.

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