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 Yoon and Wenqing Yin
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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, while those who have never used the escort before had a negative perception. Yet, a handful of people did 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. 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: The Escort App
Based on the statement, we redesigned the CMU Escort App. The current app is based on Rider's System, an app that is operated by an outside company. The current app is not user friendly, freezes often, and has issues with notifying the riders when the bus is not coming.
The prototyped app has new features, including informations about different zones, and notification feature when the bus approaches and when the bus is full. The app also provides way for students to directly contact the driver when they loose an item and call 911 during emergency. 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.
GIF files of the App in Interaction
If we were to have more time, my team and I would like to design a twin app for the drivers. The current app is strictly designed for students' convenience to promote the usage of the Escort. A linked app for drivers with features like automatically generated route based on students' location input and estimated time for the total trip would be helpful for the Escort system.