CTA working on new test for next-train-arrival signs; Titan scraps digital signs on Brown Line

Perhaps you've seen the iPhone ads during the NCAA playoffs. The guy browses to a page on his iPhone listing train arrival times for the Red, Green, Blue and other train lines.

Addison digital screens

Except we know he's not checking for CTA trains.The CTA pilot project to display next-train-arrival times on digital ad screens didn't work out so well. The CTA shut down the pilot last June.

A CTA Tattler reader succinctly explained the problem a few months ago:

I talked with some people at the CTA during the Vision Study meetings.
They reiterated what was stated before. The problem is that they need
to allow the system to account for the lag (attenuation) between where
the signal sources from and where the signal is being read from.  There
are a lot of variables to account for and I believe they need software
to do this.  Most likely they are modifying the software to
specifically account for circumstances that may be unique to the CTA,
and thus reflect accurate times.  The problem before wasn't that it
didn't work, it was that it wasn't accurate.

A CTA spokesperson recently told me they are still working out those glitches and hope to roll out another pilot project soon.

Meanwhile, the installation of digital ad signs at Brown Line stations has been suspended by Titan Outdoor due to the bad economy. However, large LED signs with CTA service messages only -- no ads -- are being installed at Belmont and Fullerton.

Titan was supposed to install the digital ad signs at all train stations. Under a contract inked in December, the CTA is guaranteed $80 million in print advertising revenue from Titan over the next five years, and a minimum of $3.3 million from digital ads for five years.

Titan better hopes the economy turns around so it doesn't lose money on this contract.

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  • "Under a contract inked in December, the CTA is guaranteed $80 million in print advertising revenue from Titan over the next five years, and a minimum of $3.3 million from digital ads for five years.

    Is that $3.3 million for each of the five years ($16.5) or a total of $3.3 for the entire five years? Either way, that's a significant drop in revenue from the $101 million referenced in the 2008 digital signage deal you linked to. Gee, the signage company, Titan, is really lucky CTA let them out of the 2008 no-bid-deal brokered by the Huberman administration.

  • That's $3.3 million total minimum for five years. And you're right, Titan is lucky!

  • As far as the iPhone, CTA could send that the next 49 bus at Western and Hirsch will be at 9:51 instead of approx. 46 minutes from now. I assume that the iPhone has a clock. Similarly, the sign in the picture could have a real time clock in the display, set by gps instead of the brilliant folk at CTA.

    As far as Titan fearing that it will lose money on the contract, turnaround apparently isn't fair play, as CTA doesn't seem to mind losing its fanny on contracts. I guess, the difference in CTA's case is that it isn't their money, just the taxpayers'.

  • I'd settle for the CTA reinstalling the light-up signs that signal trains approaching at Argyle.

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