CTA tests new train tracker signs with alert updates

The CTA is rolling out updates to how train tracker signs display information, adding customer alert information among other changes.

Signs are being tested in a variety of station types (island platforms, side platforms, multi-route) at these stations:

  • Merchandise Mart (Brown, Purple Lines)
  • Western (Brown Line)
  • Grand (Blue Line)
  • Grand (Red Line)
  • Lake (Red Line)
  • Washington (Blue Line)
  • Randolph/Wabash (Loop ‘L’)
  • Garfield (Green Line)
  • Morgan (Green and Pink Lines)
  • Clinton (entrance-only, Green and Pink Lines)

For example, this short video shows a sign with alert information:

And here’s a sign at a Loop station serving a number of rail lines. This screen shows up to the next two arrivals for each route serving this platform, while holding the first row so it’s clear what train is coming next at all times:

And, as the CTA says on its Train Tracker Screen Update page, here’s “even more detail:”

If you really want to know what some of the new abilities are in full, technical detail, here’s a more thorough run-down of some of the fine tuning we’ll have at our disposal:

  • All signs will begin to show events affecting service (planned or unplanned) while service is affected–you’ll start seeing this on signs sooner than some of the more specific, fine-tuning we’ll talk about on this page.

  • Rows of arrivals on signs will be shown with a number so it’s clearer whether what your seeing is one of the very next arrivals, or trains that are a little further out.

  • Platform signs, in many locations, will continually show the next two trains to arrive at the platform/track where the sign is placed.

  • Platform signs that are shared between tracks or lines will scroll through just the next two or three trains in each direction, so the train you’re likely to board will appear more frequently.

  • Signs at entrances that lead to multiple platforms will show the most imminent arrivals a little longer than subsequent ones, but still show trains a little further out so you know whether or not you need to hurry or can grab a cup of coffee.

  • Signs specific to a single track, when showing more than just the next two arrivals, may “hold” the first row and/or show the most imminent arrivals for a longer period of time (so the next service gets more screen time than information that isn’t as immediate).


Leave a comment
  • The change to just showing next arrivals is a hugely needed improvement for these signs. I've noticed this issue and it drives me nuts. At Belmont the screen is often scrolling through trains coming 15-20 minutes -- I don't care about that, I just want to know how long until the next train arrives. And the screens are so slow that it can take a while to scroll back to the relevant information -- for the ones at the station entrance it takes long enough that you've already walked by the screen before it can show you anything useful. Who is waiting around on the platform for the third train?

  • In reply to Lee Crandell:

    "Who is waiting around on the platform for the third train?" Guess that depends on how jam-packed the first two are! If I can see it's a 2-minute wait, quite possibly. Though I agree anything beyond 3 or 4 trains is too much information for someone already in the station.

    As for the ability to display information about "unplanned events" while service is affected, it is encouraging that this is finally provided for in terms of hardware. Let's hope the potential will be matched by timely back end decisions and good judgment resulting in appropriate messages for the display. As I've said before, there needs to be an advocate somewhere who is thinking about what the affected passenger most wants to know, able to find out what's going on, and empowered to get a helpful statement out there right now.

  • I'm still waiting for CTA to put in a tracker for the entrance at Roosevelt! It's a long trek to get to the Red line there, and it'd be great if I didn't have to walk .5mile before realize that I should have ran down the hallway.

  • In reply to Phillip9:

    Lol. :-) A little morning exercise is good for one's heart.

    Yeah, I'd like to see all entrances on all stations post at least the next arrival, as it would save a little unnecessary turmoil.

  • In reply to SpinyNorman:

    But even if there is a train about to arrive, it doesn't justify knocking down women, children and old people to make a mad dash for it.

  • The trains will be delayed while the operators/motiormen clean their trains.

  • The trains will be delayed while the operators/motormen clean their trains.

  • Multiple arrival times is something I love about the bus tracker. It can tell me there's a 36 arriving in 2 minutes, but it can't tell me if that bus is so packed I won't be able to get on it. If I can see there's another one 3 minutes behind, chances are I will wait for the 2nd one if the first is really crowded.

Leave a comment