Rolling out the new CTA train tracker

Want to know when the next train’s coming? Don’t worry – there’s an app for that.

In January, the Chicago Transit Authority officially rolled out its beta version of the CTA Train Tracker , available as a mobile application for smart phones and on the Internet. The authority’s bus tracker has already been in place since last year.

In the press release, the CTA stated that estimated arrival times are generated through a combination of scheduling information and the data collected by the QuicTrak program, “which monitors signaling systems and indicates when a portion of track is occupied by a train. Average transit time is determined by measuring how long it takes a train to travel a portion of track and by averaging the travel times of the last five trains to move across a portion of track, the CTA can calculate the estimated arrival times for trains at each station.”

Okay, so it’s a little confusing. But what Chicagoans really care about isn’t methodology, it’s how well the tracker works, right?

So far reaction seems to be positive – in large part because commuters have been waiting for this  for awhile now. The CTA Tattler blog even wrote about the CTA pre-testing the tracker on the Brown line back in April.

The Twittersphere has been praising its introduction, which many say was a long time coming. Twitter user Jose L. Torrez went so far as to call it a “WIN!” while Anne Haley, aka Anniebannanie91 tweeted “Cta train tracker= my bff.”

This screen shot shows the CTA's new online train tracker.

“Train tracker seems to work well,” said Ryan C. Miller, coordinator of orientation and parent programs at the Illinois Institute of Technology. “I’ve not been burned by it – yet.”

Time Out Chicago also did their own little test to see what people’s reactions have been, as did The Huffington Post. Blogger Steven Vance got a chance to try out the tracker before everyone else did. His verdict? It needs a few tweaks for mobile devices but other than that, he’s “extremely impressed.”

So far, it sounds good. Now if we could just do something about those pitiful French -fry warming lights at the stations….and maybe WiFi underground. Yes, please?

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