A redesign of the CMU Shuttle Escort Services in order to increase rider satisfaction and thereby, encourage usage of a vital campus safety tool.
Timeframe —
Fall 2019
4 weeks
Skills —
Design Systems
Design Research
Team —
Jason Zhu
Rachel Lee
Mobile App
Riders are greeted on the app with a friendly night-mode display signifying the nocturnal themes of their activity. From the home screen, they can input their planned destination, utilize their pre-saved residential address or place a pin on the map.
After inputting their destinations, the app will aggregate a rider's data alongside other rider's planned destinations and calculate predicted journey times according to upcoming bus stop pick-up times. Given predicted arrival time, journey time and bus arrival time, riders can choose which time they wish to head out and know exactly which bus stop is closest and which shuttle to look out for. They can set up push notifications which will notify them when the bus is soon approaching.
Riders will be given directions to head to the nearest bus stop for pick up and once in the shuttle, can learn around when their shuttle will arrive at their destination. After being dropped off, they will be encouraged to confirm their arrival to CMU, informing the administration that they have completed their trip safely.
In order to gain a better understanding of the people and their differing kinds of involvement in CMU’s public safety, we began by creating territory and experience maps. We were then able to pinpoint the CMU Escort Shuttle as the service to examine and its off-campus student users as the demographic to consult.
By experiencing the shuttle first-hand, we gained a better understanding of the formal and informal procedures when riding the shuttle. We observed the shuttle’s passengers and drivers, their interactions with one another and noted the artifacts involved as well. Our most interesting finding was how passengers verbally informed drivers of their destinations, which were then handwritten on a piece of paper.
One of many photos we took of the CMU Escort Shuttle in action.
Stationed in university common areas, we invited off-campus student residents to pinpoint where they felt most unsafe during their nightly commutes. By cross referencing this data with the shuttle’s areas of operation, we were able to reason out the possibility that the shuttle was not servicing areas that community members might need the service in the most.
Our compiled safety maps with a colored overlay of the shuttle's areas of operation
User Interviews
We returned to the same common spaces and conducted interviews with students living off-campus. Our questions were centered around their familiarity with the service and possible issues they, as users and non-users, had with the service. All together, we collected 126 unique responses.
Preview of our data collection sheet
With the data we found, we established several key insights, including pain points in the current user journey as well as potential spaces for an intervention.
01/ Unintuitive Experience

The university provides inadequate information about the escort service and its key features.
02/ Lengthy Waiting Periods

“Live tracking” does not inform riders of the exact times when the shuttle will arrive at pickup stops.
03/ Inefficient Route Planning

The shuttle can take upwards of an hour to deliver passengers home due to poor route planning.
04/ Unfamiliar Drivers

Riders note that they sometimes felt uneasy because they did not know who was driving them home.
problem framing
existing flow
To better understand the origins of rider's pain points, I reviewed the flow of the existing mobile app and came to several conclusions.

1. Not outfitted for shuttle service specifically
2. Interface requires a lot of self-navigation from the passenger
3. Only information displayed is arrival times to shuttle stops
Before beginning the design stage, I reviewed several popular transportation apps to learn what features and workflows brought a better experience to riders.
new flow
In this redesign, an objective of mine was to decrease the workload of riders to plan their shuttle trip. To do so, I planned for the mobile app to reflect the progress of a rider's trip and provide the necessary information as a rider transitioned from each stage of their trip from beginning to end.
Based on the insights gathered, I began prototyping the key stages of a rider's experience when looking to ride the shuttle bus.
Designing the shuttle times selection was particularly challenging as there were copious amounts of information that could be included.
I conducted 15 minute interviews with 8 participants who lived off campus to evaluate the current flow of the experience. 3 participants were already frequent riders of the shuttle and 5 were not. We were particularly interested in the latter's response to the experience and if they would consider taking the shuttle, if our intervention were implemented.
Hi-fi prototyping

Based on the insights from our feedback session, I continued to iterate on the wireframes and experimented with the visuals until I finalized our final high-fidelity prototype.

Wireframing of the driver's console and shuttle screen will be mocked and undergo a round of qualitative research, before a final review of all prototypes, including the mobile app, will be conducted with stakeholders. I hope to learn how many off-campus residents we may potentially convert to using the escort shuttle.