Transportation News

New app offers improved shuttle tracking

University Services has launched a beta version of a new bus tracking application for Northwestern University shuttle riders.  The system, called DoubleMap, delivers real-time information via GPS tracking.  DoubleMap shows the location of the shuttles on each route and provides estimated wait times for shuttle stops. The beta version is live and available for use immediately at northwestern.doublemap.com. DoubleMap also offers free apps for Android and iPhone as well as a mobile version of the web app for use on other mobile devices.

Please note: GPS trackers are installed in the 11 buses that are regularly assigned to NU’s shuttle system. Free Enterprise Systems (the motorcoach company that owns and operates the buses on NU’s behalf) must occasionally swap in different buses from their fleet, due to mechanical issues or other delays. Additionally, special coach buses are often used for the Frostbite shuttles. In these instances, some shuttles will not appear in DoubleMap.  Free Enterprise Systems will install additional trackers in the coming weeks to help improve DoubleMap’s accuracy.

How to access DoubleMap:

The app displays only the routes currently in service. For complete shuttle routes and schedules, visit shuttle.northwestern.edu.

Working to improve the rider experience

This winter’s severe weather and the resulting increased ridership has made it difficult for shuttles to adhere to published schedules. DoubleMap is one of the many efforts undertaken by University Services to offer more reliable service and to better communicate delays when they do occur.

Shuttle riders will see immediate improvement in tracking capabilities. DoubleMap allows users to track the exact location of a bus in real time, and users can view all routes or isolate select routes. DoubleMap also offers more detailed shuttle stop information. The app calculates estimated wait times with an algorithm that is based on route timetables and GPS data.  Its predictions will improve over time as it collects more data.

There are behind-the-scenes efforts as well. In addition to partnering with DoubleMap, University Services and Free Enterprise Systems (FES) have:

  • Conducted a thorough audit of GPS tracking devices on the shuttles and updated devices where necessary
  • Implemented the DoubleMap admin panel, which allows University Services and FES to more easily monitor and evaluate shuttle service.
  • Increased communication with FES dispatchers so that NU is better informed when significant delays occur.

Please note that the purpose of the NU Shuttles Twitter account is to communicate periodic shuttle news. We are unable to provide real-time service updates on Twitter.  For real-time service information, please use DoubleMap or call the shuttle hotline at 847-467-5284.

How to provide feedback

In the coming weeks, University Services will make ongoing improvements to DoubleMap. We invite riders to submit feedback through any of these channels: