Ethnography of bus travel

Ethnography of bus travel

Smart travel: innovation in bus transportation

Buses are an under-exploited means of transportation which suffer from a negative image in Europe. And yet in these times of crisis they offer more affordable access to the freedom and mobility that travel represents as the cost of train tickets and gasoline rise constantly. When the French rail operator SNCF asked us to completely rethink intercity bus services, we immediately hopped on board.

For 4 months Méthos' teams crisscrossed Europe by bus, from east to west, north to south. There was no better way to understand modern-day bus travel than from the inside. We learned both its problems and pleasures, as well as what needed to be improved, changed, transformed if a new type of bus services was to be created.

In order to be able to freely conceive and launch this new type of bus service, SNCF set up a team modeled on a startup business. Méthos worked closely with this team, providing useful insights from its fieldwork. In addition to evaluating the experience on buses, we spent time with drivers and passengers at stations and stops at highway rest areas.


Day and night we immersed ourselves in this world of bus travel to identify which problems were essential to resolve and how. We collaborated on this project with designers from idsl, who skillfully transformed the results of our work into avenues for development of the new offer. Today, that new vision of bus travel is operating and we are very proud to have been part of its creation.

The project was presented last year as an artefact at the EPIC conference in London, and then featured in the blog Ethnography Matters, blog post here.

Bnp Paribas Fortis
Centre Pompidou
Chalhoub Group
Galeries Lafayette
Richemont Group