By Patrick Barry, reprinted from CTA Station Watch
A few weeks back, a reader brought to our attention that the CTA's two trip planners didn't seem to know that the Granville station had closed for six weeks. A test confirmed that both of the automated tools -- powered by Google Maps and Gooroo (RTA) – were sending riders through the Granville station, and are now sending them to the closed Morse station as well.
We brought it to the attention of Tony Coppoletta, CTA's Manager of External Electronic Communications. He thanked us and said he thought it would be a relatively easy fix involving a chunk of code.
Alas, it's not that simple.
After checking with the CTA's Planning Department, Coppoletta reported back that there are "technical hurdles that make it difficult to do this with certain events, like these."
The problem involves the CTA's "GTFS feed" – that's your General Transit Feed Specification – which is a standardized format that transit agencies use to supply data to developers of mapping sites, schedulers and mobile apps.
"There are some limitations in the tools at our disposal," Coppoletta said, "that prevent us from being able to get them to reflect these temporary closures effectively." Specifically, the closures for the Red Line station repairs are temporary, open-ended ("up to six weeks") and overlapping, and the developers require a certain amount of lead time to implement the changes.
Coppoletta said that CTA is looking into some fixes that would, in the future, allow inclusion of short-term disruptions in trip planners. In the meantime, CTA is spreading the word in other ways, including:
- Data syndication, including direct pointers from Google to a route information page that includes alerts.
- Signs at affected stations and alert cards at all Red Line stations in advance of closures.
- Regular updates on the CTA website in the alerts section and on Red Line, station and Train Tracker pages.
- A strong social media push.
If any code gurus out there have a fix, let us know. Otherwise, let's all help spread the word that CTA's trip planners aren't reflecting the closure of Granville and Morse now, and the other stations later.
Since this was posted last week on CTA Station Watch, some data gurus did indeed have some suggestions on Open Government Chicago-land.
All you data geeks can read the thread.
Be sure to post photos and news about the North Red Line Interim Station Improvements at CTA Station Watch, a crowd-sourced website covering the renovations at stations from Wilson to Howard. To contribute, tweet news of the station projects with hashtags like this -- #granvillecta, #morsecta, etc – and they'll appear on the site. Or post photos through Facebook.