January 8, 2011

Mayor Daley Announces Launch Of CTA Train Tracker

Train Arrival Times for All 144 Stations Now Available on the CTA Website
Mayor Daley speaks at a press conference.
Mayor's Press Office    312.744.3334

Mayor Richard M. Daley and CTA officials today announced the launch of the CTA Train Tracker Program. Customers who want to receive estimated arrival times for the next train for all 144 rail stations across CTA's eight rail lines can now go to transitchicago.com and follow the link to the CTA Train Tracker site.

"The innovative use of this technology will improve CTA reliability and make traveling around Chicago more pleasant and convenient for our residents," said Mayor Daley. "Chicagoans depend on public transportation for their daily and weekend commutes to and from work or school, as well as access to shopping and health care facilities. And because Chicago is a world class city that attracts millions of visitors each year, the use of innovative applications like the Bus Tracker program and now the Train Tracker will add another layer of convenience for visitors, tourists and especially our residents."

Estimated arrival times are generated through a combination of scheduling information and data collected by the software that monitors the signal system to indicate when a portion of track is occupied by a train. CTA Train Tracker calculates estimated arrival times by first measuring how long it takes a train to travel a portion of track and then averaging the times of the last five trains to move across a portion of track.

"Although money is tight and our budget is lean, we are continuing to find new ways to carry out plans and ideas aimed at improving our system and the customer experience," said CTA President Richard Rodriguez. "The launch of CTA Train Tracker is significant in that it exemplifies our continued commitment to improving our services while maintaining fiscal responsibility. CTA personnel have been able to develop, test and launch CTA Train Tracker by using existing resources without incurring additional expenses."

To view estimated train arrival times, customers can go to www.transitchicago.com and follow the link on the page to CTA Train Tracker. Customersselect their rail line and then choose the station from which they will board the train. Arrival times of approaching trains are provided within a 15-minute timeframe for the selected station – with results refreshing approximately every 20-30 seconds.

Riders can customize how they view their train arrival predictions by selecting the number of results that are displayed and how they are sorted – either by platform or route if the station is served by multiple rail lines; or by time of the next arriving train. Customer alerts are also integrated into the CTA Train Tracker website and will notify riders to any planned events affecting rail service. Train arrival information also will be displayed at 13 rail stations using existing electronic signs that are either on the platform or mezzanine levels. Stations with signs included in the pilot are:

  • Clinton, Ashland and California (Green Line – Harlem/Lake branch)
  • Lake, Garfield, Cermak-Chinatown and Jackson (Red Line)
  • Chicago (Brown/Purple Lines)
  • Fullerton and Belmont (Red/Brown/Purple Lines)
  • Halsted (Orange Line)
  • Polk (Pink Line)
  • UIC-Halsted (Blue Line)

At this time, there are a few instances in which CTA Train Tracker will be unable to provide estimated arrival times, these include:

  • Express Trains – the program is not currently capable of receiving information to indicate when a train is running express;
  • Single Track Operations – when trains are operating on a single track, CTA Train Tracker will not be able to determine the direction of travel of the trains;
  • Terminal Departures – calculated arrival times can only be provided for trains after they have departed from a terminal; therefore, customers boarding at terminal locations can only be provided with scheduled departure information.
  • Start of Service – with the exception of the Red and Blue lines, which operate 24-hours a day, estimated arrival times cannot be calculated for the first few trains at the start of service because the program requires at least five trains in order to provide an estimate.

At the start of service, users will instead be provided with schedule information for the next approaching train(s). In the event there is an unscheduled event causing delays along a rail line, estimated arrival times may be temporarily replaced with either a "Delay" message or multiple dash marks ("---") until service has resumed and arrival times can be properly generated.

During the preliminary release of CTA Train Tracker, adjustments may be made to improve its appearance, functionality and accuracy. Although CTA Train Tracker currently does not have global positioning system (GPS) technology, as does its counterpart CTA Bus Tracker, live information is provided via the agency's signal system and during internal testing has proven accurate in predicting train arrivals.

Customers are encouraged to contact the agency and provide feedback to help identify ways to enhance and evolve CTA Train tracker. Any questions, comments or suggestions can be sent to feedback@transitchicago.com.

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