CMU Shuttle and Escort Services

Improving CMU's Transportation Services


Research / Service Design

The shuttle and escort service at Carnegie Mellon University is provided by the Campus Police Department with the goals of developing a system of safe transportation for students and faculty. Despite CMU students' tendancies to work late and safety concerns surrounding walking home alone at night, few students currently take advantage of these services.

As a two part project, I researched and evaluated why students were not using the services. I then prototyped an app that would help solve this problem.


Part 1: Research and Analysis

Collaborative work completed with Jessica Nip and Shannon Lin in the course How People Work.

A group project in which we analyzed the existing system, conducted research, and proposed a system's intervention in the form of a poster.


System's Overview

First, we created territory and stakeholder maps to better understand the existing system.

Territory & Stakeholder Maps




Asked 50 people around campus (Wean, Hunt, CUC, Margaret Morrison, Newell Simon, Gates, and Doherty) yes or no questions to determine their relationship with the bus systems.


Conducted open ended conversations with 17 individuals to gain a deeper understanding of their opinions towards the bus systems. 

First Hand Experience

To gain an immersive understanding of the shuttle and escort systems, we used the shuttle service twice and the escort service once.



From the survey and interviews, we found a lack of basic knowledge needed to use the services. 


60% of survey participants either didn't know enough about the services to be able to use them, or didn't have any knowledge of the services' existences at all.


When informed about the shuttle and service system and their functions, over a third of people that we interviewed expressed that they would want to use one the services, but didn't know enough to do so.

First Hand Experience:

From the first hand experience, we found that information regarding the shuttle and service systems are inaccessible. The website and existing mobile app that serve as the central source of information for bus routes is difficult to navigate. In addition, signs denoting bus stops lack adequate visibility. 


Service blueprint

Based on our first hand experience, we created a service blueprint to identify the pain points in the existing user experience. We found a disproportionate amount of steps involved in determining the initial path.


Proposed Interventions

We proposed several possible interventions aimed at making critical information about the shuttle and escort service more accessible.


Part 2: Mobile App Design

Individual work completed out of self interest / for tools exploration.

Out of all of the interventions that we proposed, improving the mobile app seamed most realistic. Therefore, as a personal project, I explored what an improved version of the existing mobile app would look like.


Existing Mobile App

The existing app provides very little helpful information about how to navigate the shuttle and escort systems and the interface is not intuitive. Therefore, I decided to start from scratch.


Existing User Flow

I also drew out the existing user flow for determining a route based on the service blueprint that we created earlier. I noticed that part of what made this process so frustrating was that there was a lot of switching back and forth between the bus services website and web/mobile app.


Competitive Analysis

I then analyzed how these steps are successfully handled in existing mobile apps. I asked around and found that Transit was popular for taking buses. In addition, I chose to reference Google Maps because it is highly regarded and widely used for general way-finding.


Google Maps

Service Blueprint

I also drew a service blueprint of the processes created from these applications. When doing so, I separated out the digital and physical interactions based on color.


Concept development

At first, I wanted to prototype an app that would improve upon the entire bus riding experience. However, I eventually decided to focus on the initial step of inputing a location and choosing a route. This is because the need for this function was the primary reason why we proposed an improvement upon the mobil app in the first place.

I then decided upon four key frames that would be necessary to display this interaction: clicking on the search button, inputting the location, deciding upon a route, and viewing the directions.


Updated User Flow

Based on my concept development and competitive analysis, I made a more streamlined user flow for the initial wayfinding process.


Key Frames

I then used elements from the existing apps to design the frames in Sketch. Since this app would be primarily used to help users find a bus route to their desired destination, I decided that choosing a route would immediately follow inputting the destination. This user flow is present on Transit, but not Google Maps. However, I did like the way that Google Maps shifted the focus to the routes in this frame by decreasing the contrast between the boxes contained the start and end points and the background, and integrated this into my design. Finally, I liked the way that the Transit provides step by step instructions to lead users to the bus stop and included this in my design as well.


Dynamic prototype

Finally, I prototyped the interaction in Origami.


Maayan Albert © 2019 |