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Bus Tracker enhancement: Link to route service alerts

A new Bus Tracker feature linking to service alerts for your selected bus routes will debut Monday when 24 new routes are added.

When a rider selects a bus route to track, the alerts feature will provide information on service disruptions or reroutes in place for that route. The alerts will be both route and location specific and will appear at the top of the estimated arrival times and map display pages.

The alert headline will provide a brief summary of what service is currently affected. By clicking on the headline, customers can access further info regarding routes affected, status and service details.

For instance, if you're tracking the infamous #36 Broadway, a link to this service alert page will appear at the top of the arrival time and map pages.

Kudos to the CTA for giving riders more information about their commute, as promised by former CTA Prez Ron Huberman last year at a Coffee with Ron.

Comments

It's great to see further enhancements to the service. What I would love to see is something similar to the Illinois Traffic Alert system. (http://www.iltrafficalert.com/)

Basically, it would be great to have the ability to select a number of buses, routes, days of the week, and times, then getting SMS or email alerts with tracker status for those buses routes during those times. Could I just pull up the site before I leave home/work? Sure. However, having the system do the work for me is the American way :)

Kevin, you're crediting Huberman with this? But he's gone! You gave Huberman credit for things Kruesi initiated but wasn't around to see completed. Why the inconsistancy here? To be consistant, you should be giving Rodriguez all the credit for this one.

BTW... Before the Huberman fans protest, I do think Huberman's people are responsible for this enhancement. I just think that it's inconsistant for Kevin to now be crediting those who initiated things credit rather than blindly crediting the guy who's in charge when the final result comes in.

Seems like a great idea and a no-brainer. Looking forward to more future updates like this.

Rodriguez doesn't even have a desk or a name plate yet. If Kevin still gives credit a couple months from now, then you can call him inconsistent.

Hm. The front page says three comments, but all I see are Vin and Rusty's...

Anyway, I suggested this to the tracker team just after it was officially rolled out, so I'm glad to see it appear. I hope by the summer they'll implement my other suggestion, real-time display of reroutes for all of the bus routes affected by weekend street fairs. (And that portion would really need to be visible by default on cell phones.)

Well, if you read the last sentence, Kevin did say "as promised by FORMER CTA Prez Ron Huberman". I would think this is enough to imply that this was Ron's brainchild.

I do not think Kevin was at all inconsistent, I think a few people here just missed the key word "former"

Does anyone else think that as nice as it is to have bus tracker, a large % (my guess would be in excess of 50%) have no access to this information and the millions of dollars spent on it could be better spent on improving the actual transportation parts (maintenance/repair of buses and trains) of the system.

"a large % (my guess would be in excess of 50%) have no access to this information"

Are you nuts? Did you just get transportated here from the early 1990s? I know of very few people who do not have internet access. Seriously, what world do you live in? Furthermore, you seem to misunderstand the purpose of bus tracker. It is not just to make things more convenient for customers. That is one part of it. But just as important (or I should say "around as important" since I believe there was a rather silly debate here awhile ago about exactly what proportation of importance it is), it serves the purpose of making it easier for the CTA to analyze its service reliability and make any neccessary adjustments. So this does serve the purpose of "improving the actual transportation parts".

I know dozens of people without internet access!
All are either poor or are over 55.
The poor mostly want it, but can't afford it & the older ones don't want it & are often actually afraid of it.
BTW, I'm 60!

Isn't the technology behind Bus Tracker primarily intended for internal use by management for scheduling and route supervision? While CTA has certainly been able to use the availability of this technology to customers as a marketing tool, that's not why the system was originally implemented. From that standpoint, Bus Tracker is an "actual transportation part of the system." If bus run headways are being adjusted based on the information that management receives through Bus Tracker in an effort to reduce bunching/gapping, passengers are benefiting even if they are not able to access the info first hand.

Bus Tracker is most useful on the run, which assumes that the user has a web-enabled phone or smartphone. The percentage of bus riders who are able to fully utilize the system is even smaller.

[Are you nuts? Did you just get transportated here from the early 1990s? I know of very few people who do not have internet access. Seriously, what world do you live in?]

Instead of ranting and raving, how about looking it up? A simple Google search will do the trick.

For example, this site (citing Nielsen research):

http://www.internetworldstats.com/am/us.htm

reports that 72.5% of the population in the US are internet users, as of June 2008.

Additionally, this article:

http://www.wired.com/culture/lifestyle/news/2004/03/62712

reports research (again from Nielsen) that about 75% of Americans have internet access at home. That's from 2004, so the percentage today is probably somewhat higher.

So yes, it appears Jim's estimate was too high. At the same time, Martha's most likely right that many fewer people have access on the run.

As for those who have access to it on their phones, also keep in mind that just because someone has a phone capable of Internet access doesn't mean they use that Internet access. Without paying for a data plan, it can be pretty expensive to access the Internet just to find out how long you're going to wait. (Now if you could use the Internet to make the bus come sooner...)

Pretty much the public version of Bus Tracker is good for people who live/work close enough to the bus stop that conditions won't significantly change in the time it takes to walk to the bus stop. Even then, thanks to ghost buses, and some of the predictive (rather than actual) placement of buses on a route, it may not have a lot of value. And if you like to take the time to shut-down your computer before leaving it, you've added more time for conditions to change, too.

So a lot of money was spent for a system that doesn't help a lot of people if the public interface was the main purpose of implimenting the technology.

Bus Tracker's best value is as a real-time management tool. It's secondary value is as an aid in planning and scheduling resources. The public interface is tossed in mostly because it's good PR, and relatively simple once the rest of the system is in place.

It's going to take awhile for CTA supervisors to learn how to leverage the technology best. It's also going to require a lot of changes to standard policies and procedures. (Boy, they could really need some leadership that knows something about transit for this! Too bad the last two Presidents have been managers who know nothing about transit.)

Hooray! Many near north side east-west routes are being added. This will facilitate timely travel between the lakefront and the near-northwest, and means that all lines through Wicker Park now have Bus Tracker.

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