CTA Train Tracker to offer text messages, ‘favorite’ station features

January 9, 2012
'L' riders can soon take advantage of two new features of the CTA Train TrackerSM service: text messaging of train arrival times and the ability to designate "favorite" stations for train information.

The new features further enhance one of the CTA's most popular and successful customer tools. Launched in 2011, CTA Train Tracker provides estimated train arrival information at stations along each of the CTA's eight rail lines.
The service now receives more than 8 million web page and data requests each month. It is available via the CTA’s website (www.transitchicago.com), through mobile applications for smartphones and tablets, and on display screens in a pilot program at nearly 30 of the CTA’s 143 rail stations.
“CTA Train Tracker, along with CTA Bus Tracker, is a great example of using technology to improve the customer experience,” said CTA President Forrest Claypool. “The information available through Train Tracker helps thousands of riders plan and manage their commutes every day, by using a convenient and accessible tool.”
Through the text messaging feature, which will launch Monday, Jan. 9, riders can have arrival times sent via text to their mobile phones. The second new feature, set to launch later this week, will allow riders to see recent and designate “favorite” stations for train arrival info. Details about how to use these new features will be posted on CTA’s website.
Estimated train arrival times are generated through a combination of scheduling information and data generated by 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 trains to traverse sections of track and then uses averages to extrapolate estimated arrivals. CTA testing has shown average margins well under a minute, even for trains that still have a long distance to travel.
Arrival times of approaching trains are provided within a 20-minute timeframe for the selected station – with results refreshing approximately every 20-30 seconds.
CTA is also exploring additional enhancements to CTA Train Tracker, such as the ability to provide travel-time predictions providing arrival times at subsequent stops and leverage new Web technologies to help riders access pertinent information more quickly and easily.
CTA also provides an application program interface (API) as part of its Developer Center that allows third-party developers to tap into the data that powers both CTA Train Tracker and Bus Tracker and produce innovative Web and mobile apps that help people get this useful information in places far beyond CTA’s system and websites.
CTA does not charge customers to receive estimated train arrival alerts via text message; however, standard text messaging rates may apply based on customers’ individual service plans.
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