CTA Discover detects your location, neatly serves up all nearby transit options

The CTA is quietly testing a new website that detects your location - or lets you provide one - and then quickly offers up a map listing all the nearby CTA bus and rail options and their estimated arrival times.

Called CTA Discover, the service also provides customer alerts and information about the bus stop or rail station. You can click on a bus on the map and it will draw a map of that bus route. Of course, there's a mobile version too.

CTA Discover is still in beta testing. I haven't had the chance yet to ask the CTA about when it will be ready to prime time. But it shows a lot of promise in my limited testing.

Give it a shot and tell us what you think.


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  • This seemed to use the same geolocator as programs mentioned a couple of months ago, except that it didn't accept mine. Of course,since I am using Comcast, the last ones had my location several miles too south.

    The "Manually pick a location" worked better than I expected; for instance, one could type in "Northwestern University" and get the middle of Evanston or "Stroger Hospital," which gets you the near west side.

    The interface differs from the Bus Tracker map in that clicking on what looks like a route icon doesn't get you a bus; apparently it gets you the nearest bus stop or station. On the left side, there is a panel with arrival times, similar to what is displayed at L stations or was proposed for the Jeffery BRT buses. Then, if you click on the blue minute link, a popup appears that gives you the vehicle and arrival information for the particular bus, similar to what you would have received if you clicked on a bus on the Bus Tracker map.

    In that this map shows both bus and train information, it is much better integrated than having a separate Bus and Train Tracker. The only difference is that it doesn't show the train number and its progress to the station (i.e. the train that's 2 minutes from IMD is now at Racine, but maybe that isn't important).

    So, this seems pretty good, although I have my doubts about automatic geolocation. Maybe it works better with an office computer or cellphone.

  • In reply to jack:

    With AT&T, the geolocation is accurate to cook county. With wifi on, it is accurate to my apartment.

    Just a fundamental limitation of the using the best source for location (and the ISP being a very imprecise last resort). Cell phones (at least Android ones) use the GPS if on for approved websites.

  • In reply to jack:

    HI Jack,

    It is likely that your computer could not detect your location because it either does not have a wifi card or your wifi was not enabled when it attempted to detect your location. geoaware apps use wifi signals to determine your location if no gps is available. If you don't have a wifi card I have found tha Internet Explorer 9 has better location detection based on your IP.

    Also I noticed that if you hover over the bus/train predictions it will display the bus/train number.

  • In reply to Lucien:

    Which is moot if one doesn't have wifi at all, just a cable modem plugged into a 10T/100T network card.

    I'm sure that in my case, Google is using the IP number to get a location, but with DCHP changing the IP periodically, and it being assigned to a Comcast gateway, as far as whois is concerned, all it is getting is the location of that gateway.

  • Very cool. I think there is an unofficial iPhone app (not sure about Android) that does a similar thing, but doesn't include trains. This presumably would work better and be more useful once complete.

  • That is very cool and I don't care I had to give it an address.

  • I think they probably could have come up with a better name. I think it works okay, but is somewhat clunky. The Transit Tracks app for Android provides nearby stops without asking (or telling) me nearly as much info as this does.

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