Glitches shut down next-train arrival times on digital screens

Thumbnail image for Addison digital screens

No more arrival times on these screens until glitches are fixed. (Photo by Ben)

A couple of software glitches have knocked out the display of next-train arrival times on the digital ad screens installed on a trial basis at six CTA rail stations.

The CTA said that in evaluating the
pilot project, they noticed that once the arrival time estimate was made,  there could be a delay of up to a few minutes before the information gets displayed on
the screen.  “For example, a train may be scheduled to arrive in three minutes,
but due to a delay in posting the information, the three minute arrival time may
not be displayed to customers until the train is less than a minute from the
station,” said a CTA spokesperson.

are working with Titan (our advertising vendor) on a solution, but in the
interim, in order not to be giving customers incorrect information, CTA is
temporarily not posting next train arrival information,” she added.

Delays are occurring in  two places, according to the CTA. First, there’s a lag
time between when the information is transmitted and when it gets through the
servers.  Another delay is because the arrival times display is in a rotation
with advertisements and the number and length of advertisements can impact how
frequently the arrival time information is displayed.

The 52-inch ad display screens are installed at the 47th Street, Sox-35th
and Addison Red Line stations; Davis Purple Line station; Roosevelt
Orange/Green line station; and the 18th Street Pink Line station. But for now you’ll just see ads for mayonnaise, among others.

And now we know why they call these “pilot projects” — to work out kinks like these before they are ready for prime time expansion.


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  • London has had this in place since at least the early '90s when I studied there. Why is Chicago having such a hard time getting it right 20 years later?

  • I'm pretty sure its not rocket science to overlay the train information over the ads, or include a bar in the bottom/top of the screens with the train information in addition to the full page info screen.

  • In reply to tovi:

    Or if the estimated arrival time is 9:33, have the computer calculate the difference between actual time and that.

    Obviously, though, the commercial is more important than the arrival time.

  • In reply to tovi:

    This is not a software glitch, it's a design flaw. It's working how they designed it to do, it was just designed poorly. They obviously needed to account for the time it takes to relay the arrival times from the central server to the outer nodes at the stations.

    That being said, I think they should be able to overcome this rather easily.

  • In reply to tovi:

    I don't think Davis has ever worked correctly yet. Also, I agree that the arrival times should consistently be displayed on a portion of the screen and not this slide show with ads. But after all with titan fronting the bill I should have expected that.

    I'm looking forward to the ones at Clark/lake though.

  • In reply to tovi:

    Transportation initiatives throughout the country hope to create a smoother traveling experience for everyone. How are you experiencing these changes with Chicago Transit? What are the most pressing challenges, and how are they being accomplished? Share your perspective today at, where you can blog, upload media, and share your local infrastructure stories.

  • In reply to tovi:

    The sign on the 148 I rode this morning said it was 4:40 PM, January 2, 1988 for the entire time I was on the bus.

  • In reply to Cheryl:

    Where is this magic bus that will allow me to redo the last 21.5 years of my life?

  • In reply to Cheryl:

    It's on an album by The Who. :)

  • In reply to Cheryl:

    So according to the CTA, I was not yet born yesterday. This is an awesome paradox.

  • In reply to Cheryl:

    apparently the CTA is now experiencing slow zones on the internets too

  • In reply to tovi:

    Hate to be a malcontent. Bus Tracker has made my livf a lot easier, so Yeah for that. I think Steve Jobs and Apple hav spoiled me for every other company - public or private. They're proof that things can be user-friendly and actually work.

    The CTA isn't upgrading the iPhone. I don't mind ads and I wouldn't necessarily mind patronage contracts if the companies could JUST MAKE THINGS WORK.

  • It certainly wasn't in the Loop this afternoon, but it may have been in a Hollies' song.

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