Next-train arrival signs in "pre-test" mode at Chicago Brown Line station

We’ve all been waiting patiently for the CTA to work out the kinks in the digital signs displaying next-train arrival times at rail station and platforms.

And they’re getting closer. So close that the CTA is doing some “pre-testing” for a second pilot at select stations, including the Chicago Brown and Purple line station. Cheryl shares this video from there. About halfway through you’ll see times pop up on the sign for when the next Brown and Purple line trains arrive.

Signs also are being tested at Fullerton and Polk stations. Since this is still in pre-test mode and not ready for prime time, the CTA was guarded in its official comment about this:

“We are currently performing some tests of the Next Train Arrival program out on the system using some of the platform LED displays. Unfortunately, having this information up and running out on the system is the only way we can properly test the program, which is why it may appear randomly between the morning and evening weekday rush periods. This is not yet ready for announcement as personnel are still performing accuracy checks and making adjustments. We expect to launch the pilot at select stations in the near future. An announcement will be made once details have been finalized.”

I understand the caution, especially given the pent-up demand for “track tracker” and great success of Bus Tracker. Earlier this week I described the history of this project. Check that out for the back story. And thanks to Cheryl for sharing. Below is the photo that Chris links to in comments.

Fullerton next train sign.jpg


Leave a comment
  • Good to see even this early alpha test. Let's hope the next-train info won't be buried between pointless standing announcements like card-expiration warnings...should keep the next-train info on the screen continuously like the signs in the London Underground:

  • While rolling north out of Chicago on the Brown last night I happened to look up and see the display with arrival times. It took me by surprise and I thought I was in DC there for a minute. Let's hope all the kinks get worked out and we can soon enjoy Train Tracker along with Bus Tracker.

  • There should also be signs where the bus drivers can see them so they know a train is there.
    Hopefully it wouldn't be too much to ask them to wait. There used to be such a sign at Linden.

  • How is it that almost every single system outside of the US can successfully implement this at not only trains stations but bus stations as well, and we can't even get a pilot to work correctly?!
    Ugh, that's ugly and confusing at first glance. Couldn't they split the screen in half for Red and Brown/Purple to make it easier to read?

  • Nice to see things moving along. I remember before they redid the Irving Park Brown Line El stop there was a large display (looked like a pedestrian walk/don't-walk sign) that would flash 'train waiting' to the bus operator and customers. I've not seen that 'technology' in a while leaving me to think now that there is very little to zero planned coordination between the two modes. I applied my own coordination method years ago by looking East from the El at Fullerton to see if there was a #11 Lincoln bus heading my way and quickly hop off the train and transfer to save a walk on the back end of my commute. But that was when the enticing aroma of the CTA powered Demon Dogs was still around. Those were the days.

  • Okay, a good start. Can we get someone with a design background to point out the obvious formatting issue of the information?

    Check out Berlin:

  • In reply to marktwain:

    Yes! In fact, the signage design at Clark/Lake is based on Berlin's...wouldn't hurt to look to Berlin again for the arrival-time signs. Looking at places where things work well and look good seems like it should be a standard part of the process, but it's too often forgotten.

  • In reply to scottknitter:

    i ramble on about this on here a lot, but CTA signage is pretty ugly, except for clark/lake which i like a lot. i'd really like to know who's responsible for designing those "CTA facts" cards on the buses, because they're actually pretty embarrassing.

  • In reply to scottknitter:

    I'm old enough to remember when there was a light bulb that would flash outside the Addison Brown Line stop when there was an approaching train. It gave you just enough time to run up to the platform as long as you had a token to through in the turnstile. If you were using change, you'd miss the train.

  • In reply to marktwain:

    Finally! I saw this in London 12 years ago, and for the life of me could never understand why it wasn't part of the CTA.

  • To M Silvia: If you have registered your Chicago Card online via your email address, you should be able view the balance online. All Chicago Card Plus's require and email address and online registration, so you can view that card online if you have it.

    Transit card value cannot be viewed online. As you may know, you can check the value of transit cards and all smart cards at train stations.

  • Danielle: CTA works with Jones Lang LaSalle on real estate leasing. I suggest you start here:

    Also, check out this post:

  • If trains ran on time, this wouldn't be an issue. For that matter, you could at least guess back in the timetable days, but Huberman started that idiotic "Between 4 and 21 minutes" crap, so there's no way to guess anymore.

Leave a comment