The Boring Tunnel

The e-ticketing system for The Boring Company's future transportation service


The Boring Company is an infrastructure and tunnel construction company founded by Elon Musk in 2016.  The Boring Company was meant to overcome rush hour congestion but giving everyday commuters a faster option.


Project Duration

2 weeks


UX/UI Designer

The Boring company is building an underground transportation service to overcome rush hour traffic especially in LA. The goal of this project was to design an e-ticketing system for them. 


The project lasted two weeks and I worked in a team of three. My primary role was a UX/UI Designer. The other two of the team worked as UX Researcher and Project Manager.


While I was actively participating in the user research and project management, I was mainly responsible for ideating solutions, defining information architecture, transforming concepts into graphics, validating ideas with testing, and deliver the design with a beautiful and interactable prototype.

C&C Analysis

Before going into the user research, we performed a C&C analysis on the ticketing systems of other public transportation services. We wanted to make sure our design includes all the necessary features and the advanced but crucial ones.


User Survey

We started our research with a user survey to learn about the general pain points people have with public transportations so we can try to address in our design.

74% of the survey takers have been confused by a train ticketing system

100% of the survey takers at some point in their life have missed a train

According to the result of the survey, it seemed that the majority of public transportation users have struggled with the navigation of some ticketing systems, and have missed a train.


User Interview

Now that we had a sense of people's experience with the current public transportation, we conducted user interviews to explore what are the incentives to take public transportation and what are the concerns.

We performed an affinity mapping to organize our findings from interviews and to discover trends and insights. 


Apparently, the majority of the daily commuters in LA is suffering from its traffic. Being able to escape from the traffic by taking public transportation is always tempting, yet, the unreliable schedule and the privacy and flexibility they would have to sacrifice are the reasons that keep them in their cars.

Key Findings

According to the results of our user survey and user interview, we can see there is still a huge potential of how public transportation can improve people's daily commute experience. However, some challenges must be addressed first.

Confusing ticketing system navigation.

Unreliable schedules.


To synthesize our research findings, we created a persona Janice as a reference to the user we were designing for. Janice is constantly battling between taking trains or driving. She doesn’t want to go through the traffic at the same time she hates missing a train due to the unreliable schedule.

User Scenario

I also created a journey map which illustrates Janice's emotion during a day she chooses to drive. 


As you can see, traffic is very exhausting. Janice had a happy morning, yet, she was almost entirely worn out by the time she arrived at work.


Problem Statement

Considering Janice's dilemma, I concluded a problem statement:

Public transportations help people escape from traffic, but they usually have an unreliable schedule.


Janice is tempted to take public transportation to skip the traffic, but she doesn't want to miss her appointment because of the unreliable schedule. How might we provide her a predictable schedule so she can get away from the traffic and have a peace of mind?



With the problem statement in mind, I realized that Janice's frustration is specifically revolved around the scheduling of the transportation service. I believe making the e-ticketing system mobile compatible will be helpful in the way it can notify Janice her schedule in real time. In addition to that, intuitive and efficient navigation can also be valuable. If the underground transportation aims to solve the traffic issue and save people time, it would only make sense that its e-ticketing system also provides maximum efficiency. As a result, I proposed my solution:  

We believe by providing a mobile e-ticketing system, with real-time trip reminder feature, and highly efficient navigation; we will create a time-saving and hassle-free ticketing system for The Boring Company's underground transportation. 

We will know this to be true when we see a significantly lower number of people missing a ride and a relatively faster ticket purchasing process.

Key Features

Based on the hypothesis, I have decided to design the e-ticketing system as a mobile app with two prioritized key features:

A real-trip reminder feature.

Clear and self-explanatory navigation.


After confirming the platform and the prioritized key features, I designed a sitemap to organize information architecture and navigation.


User Flow

I have also defined a user flow which highlights the key user interactions of the e-ticketing system. Both the sitemap and the user flow served as guidance as I drew the low-fidelity sketches. 

There is an upcoming event

User books the ticket by selecting destination and time

User gets reminded there is an upcoming trip

User arrives at the station and scans the ticket to check in


Following the sitemap and the user flow, I drew out my design in the form of low fidelity paper sketches. 


Usability Testing

To validate my solution and to discover other potential usability issues, I built a paper prototype with my sketches and conducted usability testings on it.

Users liked the design concept of navigation; all of them understood how to operate without any hint. However, I found two potential usability issues:


1) The search bar doesn't have a signifier. Users may be confused about what information they can input.

The issue was addressed when making mid-fidelity wireframes. An inline greyed out text was added on the search bar.


2) The departure station and arrival destination don't have an explicit affordance. Users could potentially confuse them with other stations.

The issue was addressed when making the high-fidelity mockup. Distinguished colors were assigned to prevent user error.


I converted my paper sketches into mid-fidelity wireframes with improvements based on observations I made from the usability testings.


Implemented Features

To demonstrate what the functional product would look like, and how my proposed features can interact, I built an animated prototype.

Trip reminder

Based on users customized setting, a push notification of the upcoming trip will remind users in advance.


The navigation bar informs users which stage he is at during the ticketing. With the arrow button, users can quickly navigate back and forth through the ticketing process.



Below is the prototype which demonstrates the complete flow of booking a trip.

Next Steps

Due to the limited time, I was only able to implement two features into my design. But I have also included a next steps section with features that will further help improve the user experience.

A feature that allows users to upload vehicle information so they can check in by plate scanning in case their phone died.

Alternative payment methods in case users don't have a credit card.

© 2019 Tianyu Li