This project by the Dutch company Muzus is a Service Design Award 2017 winner for Organisational Impact in the Public Sector

The municipality of Rotterdam faced the challenge of setting up a tender for the transport services for the elderly (from 75 years of age) and persons with disabilities. This complex system consists of up to 17,000 transport movements per day in the dense city of Rotterdam with a budget of €31 million per year. Muzus put the client at the core of the mobility services in Rotterdam, using personas as the base for the tender procedure.


Getting to grips with a complex traditional stakeholder field

Before the project was started, still in quotation phase, stakeholder maps were used map out the relations, interests and size of municipalities departments, taxi companies, specific user groups and laws and commandments that lead to all kinds of different transportation arrangements.


1. Process

Setting the right focus for exploration

Several explorative interviews with clients from different target groups were done to get fami-liar with the context of target group transport. These interviews helped to determine the right research set up for further explorative interviews with users and stakeholders.

1. Results & Effects

The right participants

Visualizing all stakeholders and their position in relation to the user made clear that exploring only the needs of users would not be sufficient. Taxi drivers, phone operators at the taxi center and municipality employees were also included in the explorative research.

2. Process

Helping participants to reflect on their transport arrangements

Generative interviews with users and stakeholders explored the needs of the users and the motivations of the most important stakeholders. Participants were sensitized by means of several exercises that they were asked to fulfill the week prior to the interview.

2. Results and Effects

A very personal and sensitive topic but very structured interviews Sensitizing prepared the participants but it also kept them on track during the interview.

3. Process

Using postcards to reach the target groups

Apart from the generative interviews conducted, about 2500 postcards were spread throughout Rotterdam to reach larger numbers of the extremely diverse target group. About 250 postcards were filled in and send back to the municipality.

3. Results and Effects

Certainty about the validity of anecdotes

The postcards created larger numbers of feedback on specific elements within user stories from specific user groups. Since the target group was so diverse and the stories were so personal, larger numbers showed whether a specific story was unique or applicable for more individuals within the target group.

4. Process

Going through user and stakeholder stories

By going through all data all at once, the stories from both users and stakeholders were used to create a framework of user needs that did not just focus on the nature of the disability of users, but segmented the entire group of users purely on their mobility needs.

Looking for the right base for segmentation

All sorts of elements for segmentation were explored, such as transport pattern and schedule, the level of support or help a person needs to get into a taxi, or the type of transport someone prefers.

Deciding on how to combine segmentation

The axes of punctuality and vulnerability could have been combined in many ways. In this case they were combined into a spectrum in order to make explicitly clear to the taxi companies that any individual can find himself anywhere on the spectrum. The position within the spectrum often differs from day to day.

4. Results and Effects

A segmentation based on mobility needs instead of disability characteristics

While the segmentation was made, current user groups, commandments and factual characteristics of the target group were set aside. This resulted in a spectrum that indicated mobility needs of disabled and elderly in Rotterdam. The spectrum was deliberately created, to clarify to the taxi companies that their customers all have an individual position within this field and that taxi services should be able to serve them all.

From the municipality perspective the spectrum could form the starting point for truly integrated services, whereas in the past different commandments differed extremely.

5. Process

Deep analysis with the entire municipality’s program team

Within the clusters of similar mobility needs, personas were created and called with relevant quotes on situation, their trips, planning, the ride, the driver and communication with the operator. The process

of going through all the interviews transcripts to select the quotes for the aspects mentioned was done together with the municipalities program team.

5. Results and Effects

Clear clusters within the spectrum summarized in four personas

Very evident groups came into focus in four specific areas of the spectrum, all with their own needs towards the services that the municipality and taxi companies provided. At the same time the spectrum communicates that every individual is different, even day by day.

The municipality’s project team líves the personas

Because the content of every persona was selected with the project team, they were able to stand behind the persona’s from day one. This made the team strong advocates of the user perspective thoughout concept development.

Four little booklets

For each persona a flyer was created, that could easily be handed out to any stakeholder who was part of the concepting phase. Because they were evaluated by several users from the target group, these users felt themselves very much understood in the whole process.

All personas were detailled on travelling pattern, successful ride, ideal driver, communicating and experiences in  public transport.

6. Process

Stretching the customer journey

The interviews were once again analysed to determine all the steps of the customer journey from a user perspective. It stretched the customer journey from three steps that were used in regular tenders for taxi transport to a full 12 steps that were relevant from a user perspective.

Buidling the customer journey

The 12-step customer journey was. like the personas, filled with the relevant information by the program team again. Key moments were decided on, using both the insights from the user perspective ánd the teams internal knowledge of civil processes.

Informing the market

On October 22nd 2015, the municipality first informed the market parties about the tender process and introduced to the personas. To stimulate market parties to form consortia for concept development different market sectors were informed, from healthcare and car companies to the ICT industry and of course the mobility sector. During 3 networking events organized by the municipality of Rotterdam representatives, people from different companies of various industries could meet each other.


6. Results and Effects

Taking someone somewhere is not enough

The three steps that usually are the base for tendering taxi transport services got extended into a full 12 step customer journey that pointed out that 75% of the customer journey was not about the trip itself.

On top of that, already during the very first explorative interviews it showed that communication about the process was at least as important as the ride itself. Within the entire spectrum people needed good communication on all aspects of the services in order to be able to make use of them. Over half of the steps in the customer journey was tied to important communication aspects.

Key moments help taxi companies to focus while concepting

The 12-step journey is very comprehensive, but since not all moments were equally important to every persona, the highlights were selected and first directions for solutions added.


The personas and customer journeys served as tools for concepting for the participating companies. The personas and customer journeys became the base of the tender invitation and the base of the tendering process.

For designers, it is very normal to create concepts from a user perspective only. However for taxi entrepreneurs, usually the targets mentioned in the tender speciation focus on price and time restrictions. These targets often do not meet the users’ needs.


They dared to apply

After three network meetings, four parties applied for the preselection phase of the competitive dialogue procedure. Because of the extensive process for all the people and companies involved in the dialog phase, only three parties would be allowed to participate in the dialog phase, during which the dialog and discussions would take place. This is why the three best parties were selected during the preselection phase of the competitive dialogue procedure. Two of which were well known public & taxi transport companies. One was a newly formed consortium which consisted of several small and middle sized relevant local parties including a taxi company and a local welfare organization.

Ten rounds of feedback created a user centered concept

Concepting rounds and discussion with experts over a period of 30 weeks kept the focus of all the companies on the end user. Every three weeks the three parties presented their thoughts about new concepts and services to users from the targets groups, experts from the municipality and other relevant stakeholders. And yes, elderly people and people with disabilities (and their parents) took part in the dialog and discussion rounds as well, sitting side by side with experts from the municipality. This way co-creation took part within the tender process. During this process, a lack of knowledge how to cope with people who suffer from hearing impairments emerged. People often can’t see if a person is hearing-impaired. This causes a lot of problems and discomfort while traveling. In addition to the 4 personas a special supplement was created to inform and inspire the participating parties how to take care of hearing-impaired persons during all the 12 steps in the customer journey.

Blueprints for future transport services

The results were far better than de program manager of the municipality of Rotterdam had ever expected. In fact, the transport services for elderly and persons with disabilities were completely redesigned from scratch. Three astonishing but different ‘blueprints’ for future transport services for the people who need them, were born.

Assessment of tenders

The final tenders were then submitted to an integral assessment. The budget is fixed. The tenderer who best meets the users’ needs as described in the personas, had the greatest change to be awarded with the contract. The intention of the municipality of Rotterdam is to award the contract to Trevvel. Because of a legal challenge has been notified we cannot describe the details of future transport services for elderly aged 75 years and older and persons with disabilities yet.

Trevvel is a consortium new to the market but most innovative in their approach to transportation services for elderly and persons with disabilities.

Project Credits

  • Project Name: 217 million worth of mobility services developed based on personas
  • Category: Professional, Non-profit / Public Sector
  • Service Design Award 2017, nominated project for Professional Award
  • Organisation: Muzus
  • Clients: Municipality of Rotterdam
  • Website:

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