An easier way to text CTA for next-bus times at your stop

While surfing the Net last week I ran across a nifty little app called CTA by Text that lets you text (757) 752-8737 with your bus route number and cross streets — such as:

66 Chicago and State — for info about arrivals times of the #66 Chicago bus at State Street.

The app might reply with:

Chicago & State: [E] 2 min, 15 min, 24 min  [W] 9 min, 18 min

The cool thing about this app as opposed to using the CTA’s system is that you don’t have to know the stop number assigned by the CTA. You just need to know the route number and stop name and send that info — in that order — to (757) 752-8737. If you prefer, you can send an email to with the same info, but it takes a little bit longer for the reply by email than by text.

Brian Tucker, the app developer, said in an interview with CTA Tattler that he developed it because “I have an old Razr phone with no Internet
plan. It puts me in a position to sympathize with others who don’t
have Internet-connected smartphones.” This is Brian’s first app built for the phone. He said he had a lot of fun building it.

Brian uses the developer tools that the CTA recently released. It appears that he likes to abide by the sentiment expressed in this Einstein quote, found on Brian’s CTA by Text home page: “Everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler.”

For a future release, Brian said, “You will be able to send any arbitrary string to identify your location in the city. It could be an address, an intersection or even a landmark. The system will then return several of the nearest bus stops with their arrival times.”

We’ll look forward to that, and thanks to Brian and all the other CTA app developers out there.


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  • That's cool for a stop you don't normally use or a phone with no 'net access, but I find it easy for my normal stops to just save the stop as a bookmark. When I'm approaching it, I just refresh and see.

  • In reply to Michi:

    Mich, I absolutely agree that saving bookmarks on a web-enabled phone is the way to go. But not everyone has one, so that's what makes this cool.

  • In reply to Michi:

    This is going to be great for those times I'm at a stop I don't normally use and have no idea what the stop number is.

  • In reply to Michi:

    I seriously love the intelligence of the input syntax on this. Excellent job, Brian. Someone should be paying you a lot of money.

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