CTA Next-Train Displays Arriving in More Stations

February 15, 2013 at 11:13 am

One of the best ways of improving the rider experience when using public transportation is to give riders more information. CTA has done a good job in giving riders more information about the location of the bus or train they’re waiting for, both by placing displays on bus shelters and in train stations, as well as opening the data to developers to create apps for smartphones and SMS information services.

Before, I’ve complained that some of the displays on train platforms aren’t that great (specifically at the Belmont and Fullerton stations) because they spend only 1/3 of their time giving useful information; for the rest of the time, they show a standard “Thank you for riding” message or train arrival times that will be irrelevant for the waiting passengers (since other trains will arrive first). Other displays throughout the network, such as the Titan displays, show everything but important information, like the weather or news and other things we don’t really need to see on a train platform.

Finally, there is the latest type of screen, which was recently installed in the Chicago (Red line) station on the mezzanine, just before going down to the platform.

Spotted at the Chicago Red line station. Credit: Rodney LaBauex.

Spotted at the Chicago Red line station. Credit: Rodney LaBauex.

I like that the screen is on the mezzanine for a few reasons:

  1. You can grab some food or drink on the mezzanine if you see that your train isn’t coming for a few minutes (yes, I know, you’re not technically supposed to eat on the train).
  2. Since you can’t see the trains from the mezzanine, you can only hear them, it would avoid the running rush that happens when you hear a train coming and it ends up being a train going in the opposite direction.

I don’t know if they will be putting these screens up on the platform either. If they already have them on the mezzanine, I don’t see the point of adding more (except perhaps to notify passengers of train delays or express-running trains). Of course, some stations (Grand on the Red line comes to mind) already have displays on the platform that do nothing but show the current time and the “Thank you for riding” message – those could be retrofitted or replaced. I do think it would be nice if some of the elevated train stations had signs on the outside of the station, hanging over the sidewalk, showing the next train/bus arrival times on one screen. Certain stations that are near certain attractions, like Wrigley Field or the airports, could have these screens located at unique locations as well.

I asked the CTA if they had a list of where else the displays would go up, and they said they plan to have all of them up in every station by the end of 2013. I hope that type of plan isn’t the same as with the bus tracker displays on shelters, which were delayed. Giving more information to riders is important in improving the quality of the experience.