News catchup: Text Tracker info at every bus stop; Bus Tracker is finalist for innovation award

Here’s a roundup of some recent CTA news:

Bus stop signs have feature Bus Tracker info. Every CTA bus stop sign now has the information you need to text the CTA about when the next bus is scheduled to arrive. That’s great news for folks without Web access on their phones. Now you just need to find the stop number on the sign and text “ctabus [stop ID number]” to 41411. So, if you’re at the northwest corner of  Damen and Belmont waiting for the southbound #50 Damen, text “ctabus 8835” to 41411 to learn when the next bus is due to arrive. Good stuff from the CTA.

There’s no Bus Tracker in NYC
. While on the subject of good stuff that is the CTA Bus Tracker, it’s worth noting that there is no Bus Tracker in New York City, and a recent New York Daily News editorial asked why the Big Apple is playing Second City to Chicago on Bus Tracker.

Bus Tracker tries for Innovation award.
And in yet more Bus Tracker news, the CTA’s fabulous way to find when your next bus is due is vying for one of the Chicago Innovation Awards. It deserves to win!

Belmont station is most romantic. Based on per capita missed connection reported, Craigslist has named the Belmont station as Chicago’s most romantic rail stop. The most romantic rail line overall is the Red Line. See the continuation to see how the rail stations ranked on the Train Romance Index Score.

Chicago’s most romantic train stations:

  1. Belmont (Red/Purple/Brown)
  2. Addison (Red)
  3. California (Pink)
  4. Linden (Purple)
  5. Fullerton (Red/Purple/Brown)
  6. Damen (Brown)
  7. Berwyn (Red)
  8. Western (Blue to Forest Park)
  9. Thorndale (Red)
  10. Bryn Mawr (Red)

Chicago’s most romantic train lines:

  1. Red
  2. Brown
  3. Blue
  4. Yellow
  5. Purple
  6. Orange
  7. Green
  8. Pink


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  • I noted in the Tribune article that the reason that the Black, Gold and Puce lines didn't make the top ten is that they don't exist. Someone else commented about the significance of Belmont and possibly Addison, but I won't go there. I also wonder whether California Pink is because it is the official stop to go to Criminal Court (at least for jurors).

  • It looks like there is a judged competition and a people's choice award for the Innovation Award that CTA is up for. Visitors can vote for the People's Choice award, so if you like Bus Tracker - vote.

    Maybe it will encourage the CTA to speed up its plans to complete the roll out of their train tracker initiative.

  • I can't get the official CTA texting thing to work. I've tried it at three different stops, I keep getting texts back that tell me I'm doing it wrong but no explanation of what I'm doing wrong. I use the other one--it works really well.

  • I've always enjoyed indulging in a little Schadenfreude that NYC can't get its bus-tracking act together.

  • I noticed at Fullerton there is not a ETA screen on the platform. Many more advanced train systems in Europe have this function and I have wondered if Chicago would start putting them in. I think these would be a great asset to the trains.

  • Nothing like using another city's transit system to make you appreciate your own. I used buses frequently on a recent trip to Milwaukee and came away with heightened appreciation for the CTA's automated stop announcements, relatively clean and new-looking buses, bright colors, relatively plentiful bars and straps for holding on, buttons as well as pull-cords for requesting a stop, and other helpful features. The buses I rode in Milwaukee seemed old, not too clean, with no announcements unless you got a driver who took care to shout them loudly enough, and the interiors were a depressing brown. The driver on the first bus I boarded was on a break, and he smoked a cigarette not outside but on the bottom step of the doorway, and he might as well have been sitting in the middle of the bus, the way the smoke filled the place. And of course no Bus Tracker. I now feel much better about and grateful for CTA buses!

  • As for ETA screens on L platforms: the ones on the Belmont Red-Brown-Purple Line platforms are perfect except for one glaring problem: just as your eyes adjust and you start reading the information, it disappears! Blank screen or that stupid card-expiration screen. Just display the ETA information continuously, changing only to update the data, with no wait for the screen to come back on! IMHO, the ones at Belmont, if they displayed the data continuously, are ready for prime time. Oh, and just show the next two trains so there's no need for the screen to scroll down and just show one train that's arriving in 25 minutes. Stable screen showing five or six trains tops, no blackouts, no other messages (except when there's a major disruption or danger).

  • Scott, you are so right on about the ETA screens !! Another pet peeve is when they break down, it takes a very long time (days to weeks)to get them up and running again !!Thanks for putting it out there, now if only the powers that be would only read the CTA Tattler !!

  • The southbound Fullerton platform does have an eta screen. I made a point of switching trains there this morning because I thought I'd seen one before but wanted to make sure before posting there's one there.

  • You needn't escape Illinois to see a shitty transit system like a mission to Milwaukee. Just check out the Pace bus system! The Pace bus system in our own suburbs makes the CTA look pretty good by comparison. The Pace bus system is so damn bad that it is approximately useless. Due to poorly designed Orion buses, you want to only use them in winter - but not too cold.

    And that with onboard temperature is just the beginning with how I hate the Pace system. They run very infrequently, have LCD TVs with only commercials, and upholstered seats so bouncy that unless the road is smooth as glass you bounce around like you are riding in a storm chasing plane in a cat 5 hurricane. They should have kept those old Grumman buses. And leave the fan belt on the A/C compressors. The idiots that run Pace never got the memo about global warming or about leaving people aboard sealed vehicles.

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