Improved rider communication is top priority for CTA in 2009: Huberman
After admitting that "when something goes wrong, we do a terrible job communicating with riders," CTA President Ron Huberman vowed to make improved rider communications the top priority in 2009. He outlined how he plans to do that in a freewheeling, 90-minute chat with CTA Tattler and friends on Saturday.
On the rails: Within the next eight months, the CTA will roll out 55-inch plasma TV screens at every train station. There will be one screen above the fareboxes, another on each stairway, and at least two on the platform level. The TVs are free to the CTA, paid for through advertising in a partnership with Titan Worldwide Outdoor.
The bottom quarter of the screen will contain CTA travel information, including the arrival time for the next train. Ads will rotate on the rest of the screen. If there's an emergency, the CTA will take over the entire screen and broadcast information to riders.
This deal also means $101 million in ad revenue for the CTA over the 10-year contract.
New rail alerts. Huberman also told us about two new alerts for rail passengers. The first would allow passengers to sign up for email notices of planned service outages and changes, such as Blue Zone weekend slow zone work between Jefferson Park and Harlem.
The CTA also plans to issue live service alerts by both text message and email in the next seven months. The alerts will explain the situation and always give alternative travel information.
Finally, Ron said CTA rail cars will advertise an 800 number onboard that riders can call for the latest info. That line will be updated every 2-3 minutes as needed.
Footnote: Ron insisted we meet at the Emerald City Coffee Shop under the Red Line Sheridan El stop because he wanted to support a business that rents from the CTA.
Coming Tuesday: New communications efforts for bus riders.