Alumni Create Phone System for Campus Bus Routes

 Returning to TOC and Giving Back to Students

October 6, 2006

When they began preparations to return to the university representing their new employer,, at the technical opportunities conference (TOC), three recent Carnegie Mellon graduates decided to use the skills they learned in school and their company's technology to make finding public transportation around campus easier.

Alumni Vishal Chordia (M.S. ECE, 2006), Lawrence Lee and Amit Agarwal (both B.S. C.S, 2006), remembered the frustration they felt waiting for area buses without knowing when they would come, and in response developed MyCMUBus, a free automated phone system that announces the bus schedule.

"We wanted to give back to Carnegie Mellon, and our managers and colleagues helped us all the way," explained Chordia, whose company is sponsoring the phone application.

After creating the service last month, they advertised it through Carnegie Mellon email distribution lists and fliers near bus stops. So far, there have been an overwhelming number of calls—approximately 1,000 requests for schedules.

When you call 866-MyCMUBus, you are greeted by an automated operator who asks if you are at the university, in Squirrel Hill, or Oakland. After you say your location, the system will reply with the next five buses that go to or from campus within the half hour. You won't need to wait on hold and can call anytime.

"We eventually envision a public transportation application that helps you get everywhere you need to go, like the Waterfront, Strip District, Century III Mall, airport, and downtown," reported Chordia.

Chordia, Lee, and Agarwal found their jobs last year through the technical opportunities conference., a subsidiary of MicroStrategy, Inc., builds and manages on-demand interactive voice response (IVR) and call center solutions. The technology start-up is located in the D.C. area, where Chordia is active in the Carnegie Mellon Alumni Association.

Left to right: Vishal Chordia, Amit Agarwal, and Lawrence Lee, are Carnegie Mellon alumni who developed MyCMUBus, an automated phone system that announces the buses coming to and from campus.