CTA to Expand Bus Tracker

April 23, 2007
4/23/07

Service Management Tool Provides Bus Location and Estimated Arrival Time

The Chicago Transit Board today approved three contracts totaling $24.1 million that allows CTA to expand the Bus Tracker program to all 154 bus routes. The contracts with Clever Devices, IBM and Sprint/Nextel provide for the purchase and installation of hardware and system upgrades needed in order for the program to be functional on CTA's entire bus fleet. Once installed, the technological equipment also can be used to support other initiatives such as the Mobile Security Network.

"We?re putting technology to work to improve service reliability and customer satisfaction," said CTA President Frank Kruesi. ?Last year nearly 300 million rides were taken on CTA buses. Through this initiative we can improve bus service through the real-time data collected and make bus travel even more convenient for our customers and more attractive to potential customers."

Through global positioning satellite (GPS) technology, CTA supervisory personnel will be able to map the location of every bus on every route throughout the entire system and make service adjustments based on the performance of the entire fleet, rather than only what they can see from their post on the street. Information such as gaps in service along the route or delays at a specific point will be viewed in real time and supervisors may make the necessary adjustments immediately and be better able to predict the impact of the adjustment. The ability to see the location of buses and the level of service throughout the entire route as well as throughout the service corridor will provide the necessary information to help mitigate bus bunching and provide a more consistent level of service along the route.

For customers, the information technology will enable them to find out when the next bus is due to arrive, ultimately reducing wait times, improving service reliability and enhancing the overall transit experience.

In August 2006, CTA began testing Bus Tracker on the #20 Madison route and at one bus shelter along the route. Throughout the initial pilot, field supervisors on the #20 Madison route were equipped with laptops and Control Center personnel were able to monitor on-time performance, track bus locations, monitor when buses leave the garage and begin their trips, and monitor intervals between buses. The software also provides text-messaging capabilities to bus operators from the Control Center and field supervisors.

Since the pilot's inception, customers have been able to access Bus Tracker via a dedicated web site, www.ctabustracker.com, to get estimated arrival times of buses along the route. CTA will gradually add routes to the Bus Tracker web site according to each of CTA's eight garages. As the program expands throughout the summer, customers will be able to access information for their bus routes. The web site also provides a route map with icons indicating the location and direction of each bus currently in service along the route and estimated arrival times for bus stops along the route. Customers can choose to activate an alarm that will alert them when a bus is approaching their stop.

The first routes to be added will originate from the North Park garage as dozens of the routes operate throughout areas that are most impacted by three-track operation. Bus Tracker will be operational throughout CTA's entire bus fleet early in 2008.

Later this year, customers will be able to find estimated arrival times for the following routes:

? #11 Lincoln/Sedgwick

? #22 Clark

? #36 Broadway

? #49B North Western

? #93 California/Dodge

? #96 Lunt

? #97 Skokie

? #X98 Avon Express

? #125 Water Tower Express

? #135 Clarendon/LaSalle Express

? #136 Sheridan/LaSalle Express

? #143 Stockton/Michigan Express

? #144 Marine/Michigan Express

? #145 Wilson/Michigan Express

? #146 Inner Drive/Michigan Express

? #147 Outer Drive Express

? #148 Clarendon/Michigan Express

? #151 Sheridan

? #152 Addison

? #154 Wrigley Field Express

? #155 Devon

? #200 Main Shuttle

? #201 Central/Ridge

? #205 Chicago/Golf

? #206 Evanston Circulator

To get the estimated arrival times of buses along the route, customers can access the Bus Tracker web site from their computers and web-enabled personal digital assistants (PDAs). BlackBerry? users must have version 4.1 or higher.

The PDAs must have full Internet access capabilities through web browsers that support HyperText Markup Language (HTML) such as Internet Explorer?. Customers who use PDAs will be able to access the estimated arrival time display only. Cell phone users should contact their wireless service providers for information on their phone's internet capabilities.

Today's board action leverages previous investments in technology by using them as building blocks, with each phase of the project providing additional benefits for customers and the CTA. In 2003, CTA installed the automated announcement system which also gathers information using GPS technology to announce next stop and other route information to customers, as well as the automated vehicle location system which provides operational data that is evaluated to help improve the performance of CTA bus service.

Clever Devices was selected to expand Bus Tracker as it was the company chosen through the competitive bid process to supply the original equipment upon which the Bus Tracker program is built. Additional equipment and technology is supplied by Sprint/Nextel and IBM.

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