Train Tracker screens at Red Line's Sox-35th hide among gobs of advertising

The Sox-35th station on the CTA's Red Line is now so inundated with advertising screens that it's hard to find the one screen with next-train arrival times on it. There are at least a dozen screen in use.

And the arrival times rotate very infrequently with ad after mind-numbing ad. The arrival times appear so intermittently they are almost useless.

I counted three minutes before the arrival times popped up again on one of the screens. One would do better relying on his smartphone.

I'm happy the CTA is expanding the use of Train Tracker at stations. And it's smart to get all the ad money you can.  I just wish Train Tracker was more useful at Sox-35th.

I haven't checked the other stations where the Train Tracker screens were placed earlier this month. Perhaps you readers can tell me if the experience is the same at those stations.

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  • True at Roosevelt Orange/Green. The Chicago Avenue Brown Line (where it first appeared) almost continuously displays the warning about expiring Chicago Cards.


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  • It's also true at Pulaski Orange Line. And to make matters worse, although they do have the announcements about service changes and such, those are in a "rotation" with the ads.

    In order for these Train Tracker screens to be effective, they really ought to go ad-Tracker-ad-Tracker-ad-Tracker... as opposed to ad-ad-ad-ad-customer alerts-ad-ad-ad-ad-ad-Tracker-ad-ad-ad-ad-ad-system status, repeat.

  • Ditto for the Davis Purple line!

  • Even if this was a charade to sell more ads, the least they could do is have a crawl "Next Purple Line to Loop in 5 minutes."

    With all the stupid crawls on TV (such as NBC Nonstop with tweets and FoxChicago with Facebook), that's the least the CTA could do.

  • I timed it, and there are 1:30 to 2 minutes of ads and other screens for every 8 seconds of CTA tracker. So at best there are 6 minutes of CTA Tracker per hours. I'm sorry but that borders on utterly useless - it should 50/50 at the very least and really should be ad free.

  • They're basically useless and a waste of money and time.

  • What organizations like the CTA need is a customer-friendliness advocate who reports only to someone very high up. Nobody else has an incentive to review processes and policies from the experience standpoint and say "this is not effective when viewed from the other end."

    Not that that would ever happen. And even if it did, it would have to be matched by a commitment by the higher-ups to make the necessary fixes. Even organizations with direct competition have a hard time with this concept.

  • In reply to CCWriter:

    Excellent point.

    From what some above indicate, this is basically a way to make one captive to the ads one would otherwise ignore, by providing the hope that the tracker screen appears before the train does.

  • In reply to jack:

    Good point too, but the way they're doing it seems to ignore basic psychology, in that you have to provide enough of a payoff for viewing (information they need) so that they don't give up in frustration/disgust and never bother looking at the signs again.

  • In reply to jack:

    Has anybody noticed that the times displayed are often inaccurate? I have had several recent experiences at Clark/Lake, Roosevelt, Sox-35th and 35th-Bronzeville-IIT where the time displayed is up to 2 or 3 minute less than how long it actually takes the train to arrive. When CTA first put the arrival times on the TVs when they were first installed a couple years ago, CTA removed them claiming that they were inaccurate by a few minutes. My only experiences were at Sox-35th, but I thought that the times were quite accurate then. The current online and mobile versions of train tracker are very precise, as are the signs that display the arrival times along with endless expiring Chicago Card notices.

  • In reply to beauluby:

    The times displayed this weekend at Sox-35th (when they were displayed) were accurate.

  • In reply to beauluby:

    You might want to check out this guy's explanation on that the signs at issue are Titan signs, and hence Train Tracker is incidental.

  • In reply to jack:

    Link died, reference was to

  • In reply to jack:

    Thanks for the tip, Jack.

  • In reply to Kevin O’Neil:

    The mere fact that the signs are about advertising doesn't make the presence of content incidental--far from it. Content is what delivers exposure to the ads. Everyone in the advertising business knows this. Except, apparently, whatever advertisers are paying Titan!

  • The mere fact that Titan is for advertising doesn't make the presence of content moot. Content is what delivers exposure to the ads. Everyone in the advertising business knows this. Except, apparently, the advertisers that are paying Titan.

    (Sorry if this is a duplicate post. The new whatever-it-is did not appear to have processed my first post.)

  • In reply to CCWriter:

    Ah, there it is. Just for the record, I think my first version was better.

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