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Google Maps adds transit layer; get something fixed - report it!

Earlier this month, Google added a public transportation layer to 59 big city maps, including Chicago.

Charles, my CTA Tattler tipster on this, writes: "My favorite use is to find my destination in Google Maps, then look for the nearest train station or bus stop. I have the benefit of living downtown, so I'm just two blocks from every train line in the city – makes it easier to use Google Maps than Tripsweb."

Charles is right, if you know the CTA system fairly well. Of course the CTA has had its partnership with Google Maps since April of 2008 to provide transit trip information. The link to Google Maps is on CTA's home page, but when you click through to the map the transit layer is not enabled. You have to click "More" in the map and then click "Transit."

Suggestion to CTA Web site gurus: Enable the Transit layer on your Google Map as the default.

If you see something, say something -- and get it fixed! In the past two weeks I have emailed CTA's Customer Service department twice about things that needed fixing on the Morse Red Line platform. And both times they were fixed -- once by the next day and once within three days. The CTA fixed one broken heat lamp and removed graffiti from a sign.

Since "Percent of Customer Complaints Not Closed Out Within 14 Days" is one of the Performance Metrics tracked, I suspect the customer service boss keeps close tabs on open complaints.

I like emailing rather than calling (1-888-968-7282) because then I have a record in my outbox. So send your email and get stuff fixed.


I know it's really early, but it appears that on the first day of Bustracker for the 22 & 36 buses, at least one run of the 36 has taken off & landed in the Hudson river.
The NB run that leaves Harrison/Wells at 5:30 & arrives at Clark/Devon at 6:24 never seems to have made it.
That meant a 25 minute wait instead of the scheduled 13 minute wait in 7° cold.

There is always a possibility of an equipment malfunction aboard that bus & it just didn't show up, but then, since this is the debut day on Bustracker of two of the worst routes in the system, you would think the North Park manager would make doubly sure everything worked right.

So far the 22 is running well, but around 6:05 there weren't any SB buses from Howard south to Lawrence, when one suddenly lighted up at Howard/Clark, but not at the L station.

I eagerly await the flames!

I'm not judging, UICC. I'm sure you saw what you saw. I didn't have any illusions that addition of the tracker would mean all problems would suddenly go away on an enormously busy, complicated route.

But at 8:38, in the heart of rush hour, I'd have to say that the Clark buses are spread out nicely across the route, and there are loads of them. The biggest 'gap' I see is from Fullerton to Addison, or 12 blocks. Checking back after writing part of my post, it looks like that was about a 10 minute break.

There are a few bunches, but given how many Clark buses there are, you couldn't keep all of them away from each other. There's service everywhere.

I don't use Clark at rush, but I know the many Lakeview folks here will keep us all overly attuned to their welfare.

I'm simply impressed that google is using different colors for bus routes. Did that start today? I know the old CTA bus tracker used different colors for routes before.

Anyway, it now shows a run for 36 that ended up in the middle of Lake Michigan and a run for 11 that ended up in St Anne, IL, which is a few miles SE of Kankakee. I hope these aren't route expansion tests, 36 won't get very far when the ice melts.

(For those that can't read between the lines, the map does show this, however, it's likely a technical glitch; however, perhaps someone wants to "Tattle" about how they fell asleep on Wells and ended up Downstate)

I'm not sure everyone's email messages get the same attention. I sent a suggestion about the Bus Tracker web site (that when it's not working, a message to that effect should be posted on the main Bus Tracker page, and not just the text-only version page) over a month ago, and haven't heard back from the CTA.

I agree that e-mail is a great way to communicate with CTA. And I got satisfaction within 3 weeks when I asked about re-establishing an eastbound bus stop at the Chicago and Franklin L stop. I wrote on 16 Dec and the bus stop was moved on 31 Dec.

If you've been using the tracker for a while, you do know that buses appear and disappear occasionally based on all sorts of conditions. I believe there's a bit of info about it in the FAQ. It's also common for the mobile and regular "time estimated" displays for a particular stop to not match and for neither of them to quite match the map, so if you're only starting to pay attention to the tracker today, don't get too excited when that happens.

The Google transit layer is terrible. It's Google, so I'm sure they'll improve it, but right now it seems pretty useless to me.

Carole is starting to talk bigger. The $500m mentioned matches WMATAs request


I thought the post meant getting things fixed on google maps. You know, stuff like ( http://maps.google.com/maps?hl=en&ie=UTF8&ll=41.875884,-87.629067&spn=0.002968,0.006974&t=h&z=18&lci=transit ) the rock island being rerouted along the green line or ( http://maps.google.com/maps?hl=en&ie=UTF8&ll=41.873004,-87.620752&spn=0.002968,0.006974&t=h&z=18&lci=transit )busses cutting across grant park.

This was just after 6 AM.
Very little traffic at that hour compared to 2 hours later.
And I watched continuously, there was that one NB 36 run missing the entire time, a 12-13 minute gap, meaning a 25 minute wait for the bus. There wasn't any bus intermittently showing up & disappearing.
The possibilities are:
1. That bus had a defective transmitter/receiver for its GPS.
2. The bus broke down.
3. The bus was in a collision.
4. The driver never showed up & a run was canceled.
5. An incident on the bus & 911 was called, could be criminal or medical.

It's 12:30 and on a whim I checked--there's not a single 22 on the Bus Tracker.

The google transit layer doesn't seem very useful w/o using different colors for the different bus routes.
And btw, you don't have to specifically activate the tranist layer, if you just click on any bus stop on the map you get to see the routes of the bus routes running from that station.
However there's also no color coding and no way choose that only one specific route is displayed.

Plus the bus routes jerk back and forth along the road constantly -- it seems to me that the transit layer should essentially be the CTA's system map overlaid onto the Google Map. Instead, it's this ugly, randomly squiggling, virtually useless piece of crap.

Ok, after lunch while watching the senate removal hearing I fired up bustracker on the 22 and picked a NB 22 at random...Bus 1463

Fullerton 12:55
Irving Park 1:11
Foster 1:19
Devon 1:32
Howard 1:53

Using the schedule at 6:21 am, it should take 19 minutes to get from Foster to Howard.

This bus took 34 minutes during a non-rush time.

Share and Enjoy!


Why would you use the schedule for a 6:21 AM bus at 1:00? Why not just use the schedule for January 26, 2109, when hoverbuses will zip us back and forth just short of Mach 1?


It was the closest time on the schedule to rush hour without being rush hour and since the afternoon was during non-rush hour, I figured they might be representative....


Apparently they are not representative and nor does 34 minutes sound completely unreasonable. Slow maybe, but not that bad.

Crain just reported that Ron will be the new CPS director. THIS STATE IS CRAZY!!!!!

I think we all need to appeal this and protest this.

Let's impeach Daley!


I'm all for getting Daley out of office, and have been for years now.

Yeah, I have to figure there's a lot less business traffic at 6:30 AM than at 1 PM, if nothing else. Doesn't the Andersonville stretch have at least three storefronts involved in package shipping? Plus people coming and going from the zillion (I counted) sandwich shops. Zippy apples and congested oranges, I suspect.

And while I share the sentiment about Daley, I hope this thread doesn't collide with the lovesfest for the bastid one post down...

Wow. Too bad we couldnt have Kept Ron at CTA longer. I think he was heading CTA in the right direction. Now that Obama has cherry picked the best Chicago had to offer (not Ron Huberman) We are going to see a brain drain everywhere in Chicago from CTA to the CPS to the Mayors office and beyond.

According to schedule data from Google Transit, northbound travel time between Clark/Foster and Howard should be 22 mins for a bus leaving Foster at 1:19pm.

Bob S: Have you seen how many empty stores there are in Andersonville lately?

It's on the way to becoming a ghost town!

In the all, not a good move for CTA and really not for the Mayor. He really looks like he's scrambling these days--the turnover in all of his top positions is just way too high.

He could do a nationwide search for some talent to run the CTA, but he won't do that because it sends a mixed signal to the IOC (not necessarily a bad signal if the Mayor played it right) and because history shows the Mayor really doesn't like outsiders.
Jodi Weis is the only one recently that comes to mind. Paul Vallas was the last other hire that sort of came from the outside, and the fact that Vallas showed just a little independence now-n-then supposedly was too much for the Mayor. I mean, if the Mayor was comfortable with outsiders he would have done a nationwide search for CPS (the more normal, professional thing to do), but instead he seems to feel he needed to do something soon.

My guess is that the Mayor isn't asking Huberman who his replacement should be but asking the guy down the hall--good ole Frank. FK will be picking the next CTA head, whispering to the Mayor that he needs someone to spend the stimulus money and win the Olympics. On-time peformance be damned.

Problem is: if there's anyone good in public transit, they're heading to Washington, not Chicago.

All-in-all, not one of the best Daley moments.


Yup, UCC, nothing but tumbleweeds and desert sand from horizon to horizon.

(backs away slowly)

Now that the 22 bus is on the bus tracker, making Andersonville more accessible, perhaps the neighborhood will pick up again. I know I'll visit more.

"If you see something, say something -- and get it fixed!"

If they do fix something in a reasonable time, might a "thank you" email be a good idea?

Jim C., I suspect they'd appreciate compliments.

O.K., here's what I'm reporting today, (relating to the church fire at Chicago & State this morning)

Today, there's a bus re-route on the 36 Broadway bus due to a fire, however, on bus tracker, every bus disappears in the area of the reroute and then reappears on the other side. Please repair bus tracker so that buses can be tracked during a reroute. The, often incorrectly stated text reroutes(like the 66 Chicago reroute today), cannot replace actually seeing where the buses are going on the bus tracker map.

It's not very useful for the general public to not be able to track buses during a reroute.

Thank you for your attention in this matter.

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