CMU Escort is a bus system that drops off Carnegie Mellon University's community members home safe at night. The escort does not have designated stops: It stops when the bus arrives at a rider's destination point. It is run parallel with CMU's shuttle service from 6:30pm to 11pm and is solely run from 11pm to 6:30am. Despite it being a great idea for service, not many students are aware of this system due to the lack of information.
The goal of this project is to redesign the CMU Escort experience to make the service more approachable, usable, and desirable.
2019, 8 weeks
Claire Lee and Wenqing Yin
· · ·
We started the project by sending out surveys to learn whether students are using the escort or not and the reason for using / not using it. We also conducted observational studies and interviews, and experienced the escort to understand what it is like to be on the escort.
Interview question and notes
Data gathered through the survey
The main takeaway of the research was that those who use the escort had positive response towards it. But a handful of people complained about the bus not arriving on time and the drivers not communicating effectively with the students when the bus broke down.
02. Stakeholders and Territory Mapping
Unfortunately, my group mates and I walked into this project with many negative assumptions about the escort, and decided to redesign the escort system to make it safer and more efficient. To understand more about the problem, we created stakeholders and territory mapping to visualize our ideas.
After conducting research and collecting data, Wenqing, Claire, and I created two maps: a stakeholder map that analyzes the relationship between stakeholders, and a territory map based on the different stakeholders. In the map, the students are in the core of the second map, as the escort is designed to serve CMU students at night.
Because we also walked into the project thinking that the escort had many problems, group mates and I realized that the core problem of CMU Escort is that people have negative perception towards it. Although group of people who use it regularly have positive response towards it, those who have never used it had negative response. This realization made us pivot from our original research question, "How might we improve the escort system to be safer and intentionally efficient?"
The following were the identified problems of the escort:
· Lack of awareness of the escort system
· Inefficient route design
· Lack of information when the bus is not coming
· Lack of trust on the system due to poor communication
Then we finalized our research question:
How might we change people’s perception on the escort and optimize the bus routes?
04. Intervention: Digitize
Based on the statement, we designed three interventions: Digitize, Advertise & Don't Traumatize.
Because the current CMU app is not user friendly, freezes often, and has issues with notifying the riders when the bus is not coming, we designed a new app for CMU Escort. The screenshots of the prototyped app is down below.
Prototyped escort app
New escort app has various features that is not included in the original app used by CMU. The designed app allows students to search address to find which zone the address is under, provide direct feedback about the drivers, and schedule a reminder for when the bus is coming. But most importantly, it has a QR code system, allowing students to check into the bus without having to pull out student ID in the middle of cold night.
05. Intervention: Advertise
CMU Escort lacks clear brand identity. In order to reassure the escort's brand identity, we created a series of graphics to visually aid students' understandings about the escort system. We then decided to create posters, flyers, and bus stop plates with the newly-designed logo.
The poster, printed on tabloid oversize, informs students about the escort system and respective zones. The flyer is a quarter size of a letter sized paper and is for those who like to have the information physically with them. The bus stop on the right informs that the bus comes every 30 minutes after 6:30pm, notifying the bus times for those who are already waiting in the bus stops.
06. Intervention: Don't Traumatize
Lastly, to encourage students to regularly use the escort and prevent it from having bad reputation, we decided to have a systems-level implementation. The key is to provide consistent service to increase student trust in the system and encouraging active communication between students and drivers, especially when the buses fail to come on time.
07. Final Research Poster
The poster below was created to capture the different research methods, the points that we discovered while researching, the research question, and intervention points. It helped the viewer understand the overall problem without having me or my group mates to physically be there to explain the concept.
This information was originally delivered in a form of an oral presentation.
You can view the presentation slides of Take Me Home: Redesigning the CMU Escort here.
Sample pages from the escort presentation