CTA’s Train Tracker has been live for about two days now. (Link for smartphone users.) I’ve had a chance to use it on two different rail lines. And I’ve been reading details about it on the Chicago Transit Authority website. Here are some tips and details I’ve gathered.
How it works. “This system looks at where in-service trains are and makes estimations
based on recent travel times from one place to another, and also shows
scheduled information when predictions aren’t available due to a train
not being close enough yet to do so.”
It’s still a work in progress. The CTA stresses that they are still “working out bugs and adding additional features, including additional ways to view train
information, quicker and easier ways to get to the information that
matters to you, APIs, maps and more.”
How it’s different from Bus Tracker. Unlike Bus Tracker, Train Tracker does not ask you which direction you are traveling, only your rail station. It shows results for all rail lines served by that station, in all directions. So if you want to know when the next Howard-bound Red Line arrives at Belmont during rush hour, you may have to sort through at least 12 results from three rail lines running in two directions. Improving that experience is one suggestion I have.
No info on express trains. The CTA is working on providing information on when a train runs express. Look for it in a later release.
No APIs yet for developers.
The CTA has no APIs for CTA Train Tracker data because it’s still in
beta testing. But the CTA does plan to release it as soon as the API is
stable. The CTA also warns that “attempting to “scrape” information off
the Web pages is likely to cause
instability in your apps, and our site may reject access to anyone
making an excessive number of requests to ensure overall availability.”
Electronic signs at 13 stations. Train arrival information will be displayed on electronic screens located either on the platform or at the mezzanine level:
- Clinton, Ashland and California (Green Line – Harlem/Lake branch)
- Lake, Garfield, Cermak-Chinatown and Jackson (Red Line)
- Chicago (Brown/Purple Lines)
- Fullerton and Belmont (Red/Brown/Purple Lines)
- Halsted (Orange Line)
- Polk (Pink Line)
- UIC-Halsted (Blue Line)
Tattler on Facebook.