Next Bus Tracker iteration - Congestion Tracker

My friend Bruce has a great idea. He thinks the CTA should extend its successful and popular Bus Tracker application to Congestion Tracker. That way, you could not only see when the next bus would arrive, but also whether it would be too crowded to board. That would save more minutes and exposure to extreme weather conditions.

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When I asked him how the CTA would do this, he replied like a true idea guy -- he didn't know, but others could figure it out.

As I thought about it. I was figuring it might not be too difficult. First, the CTA knows how many people are on the bus from the fare box scanner. But what about those who get off the bus? Perhaps the CTA could use their on-board bus cameras to beam back photos and translate that info into Congestion Tracker data. It might work.

Does anyone have other ideas on how to make this work?

Meanwhile, Bus Tracker is indeed popular among CTA rider. The Sun-Times reports that "visits to the Bus Tracker website have soared 45 percent -- to 46,062 in September from 31,720 in June -- on an average weekday."


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  • The CTA does have APC (automatic passenger counters) onboard their buses. Whether or not it works is another story....

  • In reply to brettbabcock:

    That was about what I was going to say. Those things, when installed, count going in and coming off, and, unlike the farebox, can't be bypassed.

    The only question is whether they are on the Novas.

    Of course, if they say that every bus for the next two hours would be congested, what is Bruce going to do with that information, walk or get out his car?

  • In reply to brettbabcock:

    Those systems don't talk to each other. Bustracker is just a software package bought from Clever Devices and administered by a third party. CTA has almost nothing to do with it other than paying the bill.

  • Let's let the CTA focus on getting Train Tracker up and running. It's taking them long enough to do it (it CAN'T be this hard) and it would really be a nice addition for riders.

    Tell Bruce to suck in his gut and squeeze in like the rest of us.

  • In reply to aaronjbrown:

    I seriously wonder if train tracker will ever be operational, due to the fear of terrorists knowing when trains are in the tunnels & far away from the stations & portals.

    As for congestion tracker, if you're looking at Bustracker on a computer, it's easy to tell if a bus is crowded if they're bunched up. Three or four buses running together means that they're very crowded!

  • In reply to ScooterLibbby:

    Yes, let's stop all progress unless we can be sure terrorists can't also use it. Won't someone think of the children???

  • In reply to chris:

    1. I'm not advocating it, I'm just guessing why the CTA hasn't done it.
    And if you saw the news tonight...
    2. Classic overreaction by the cops for a suitcase some moron forgot on the Addison/Kennedy platform.
    Shutting down the Kennedy for an hour & still not letting trains stop at Addison?
    A terrorist isn't going to blow up a minor stop like Addison! They want a confined space to magnify the explosion, meaning underground.
    The same overreaction happened in July 2007 when a backpack was left on the Berwyn platform. Not only was all rail service stopped for hours, but the entire surrounding area was evacuated!
    No one is going to blow up Berwyn!
    The reason for this insane overreaction is simple: They've got the equipment & they need an excuse to use it! The mission always expands to use all the resources at hand!

  • In reply to ScooterLibbby:

    Back on the old Tattler site I suggested this when the Tracker debuted and was roundly smacked around for suggesting something completely impossible. I'm glad it's gaining a little traction, even though it'll never happen. Besides, the empty one will always zoom past your stop and let the crowded one pick you up.

  • In reply to ScooterLibbby:

    Oh, and the Sun-Times should know better than to compare usage stats from June and September. The former's a vacation month and most of the students from out of town have taken off, too. Year-ago comparisons would be meaningful, but June and September not so much.

  • In reply to ScooterLibbby:

    Bah, I'm pretty sure terrorists could work some sort of system out if they wanted to. Tracker or no tracker. Stupid reason not to make things more convenient for everyone else.

    As for bunched busses... that means one or two are full, but there's usually one that's completely empty running behind them. In that case I use the tracker on my phone to know that I can wait for the next one if a stuffed one comes by.

  • In reply to lintilla:

    According to tonight's news, they already have.

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