Transforming your passion project into real-life impact

Redesigning bus travel in Helsinki

Katarina Blind
3 min readOct 4, 2023

Sometimes we see something in our everyday lives that feels off. As designers, we often discover pain points and maybe even go as far as to discuss it with design friends or do a tiny exploration but that’s about it.

If something isn’t connected to our jobs, projects we’re working on or ideas we’re bookmarking for future companies these observation and mental notes only collect dust in our notes apps.

But what if you actually took a problem interesting to you and tried to make it better? Like in real life, not just Figma…

Spending my summer break on improving bus travel without anyone asking … hehe

For some reasons, I’m really fascinated in transportation design, specifically the experience around it that connects physical and digital worlds.

Helsinki has a very well connected and functioning public transportation network that I use all the time. However, I noticed myself avoiding taking the bus at all cost, even taking substantially longer to get somewhere by metro and walking.

After thinking about this problem space for a while I decided to actually work on it, research, design, product thinking and all. I spent a good amount of my summer learning more about why public transport is important and trying to understand the Finnish design documentation of Helsinki’s public transit company.

Trying to navigate a design system in Finnish… without knowing Finnish

And I did all of that because I was genuinely interested in it. I wasn’t working with the company, I didn’t receive any salary and the only data I had was from my own research and whatever was publicly available.

Key parts of the redesign

When I finished the project within the scope I defined for myself, I started reaching out to designers at the transit company. I had done all of this work and thought that it’d be a shame that bus transit in Helsinki would remain the same. I had nothing to loose so I asked if I could present my project.

They said yes. So I went to their office to present it to a designer and immediately scheduled a follow up meeting with the design team shortly after. The design team loved the perspective, initiative and findings and is now having me come back to give more context on certain constraints and figure out what exactly they can build.

Since then, I’ve checked in with them and they’re about to launch the first part of the proposal with more coming in the future. Check out the project website:

Learn more on the project website :)

A year ago I was a passive passenger on a bus and now I’m about to actively change public transport in Helsinki for the better. It all boils down to a simple, but important message: Just go for it!

There probably is nothing holding you back except for your own thoughts. So don’t let yourself stop you from having a positive impact on the world around you.