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Digital signs at rail stations to display train arrival info

Within four months, CTA rail passengers will be able to get real-time next-train arrival information and other news via a new digital  ad network announced last week.

CTA President Ron Huberman mentioned this deal with Titan Outdoor during our Coffee with Ron last month. A "countdown" clock will note the time till the next train's arrival.

The deal will net the CTA $100 million in revenues over 10 years.

"Under the agreement, Titan will install digital screens at every CTA rail station and ‘urban panels’ at the entrances to subway and elevated stations," according to a CTA press release.  "In addition to being used for advertising, the CTA will be able to use the screens to provide next train arrival and customer information. The messages can be targeted to specific stations or communities and the CTA will be able to issue emergency override messages as needed. Digital ads will also be displayed on the curb side of 100 buses.

"Titan will assume the cost of design and installation and will be responsible for the maintenance of the signs. At the end of the contract, CTA will assume ownership."

Good stuff.


Peanuts.Mayor Daley should change the city motto to " City Of Evil".The t-shirt concession money alone could fund every single C.T.A. project, even the pipe dream ones.

I have to admit that this sounds good, but I'm still a little skeptical. Will these signs show the "countdown clock" continuously or will there be ads taking up the entire screen with the clocks shown at an interval? If that interval is too long, the signs will be useless and no one will bother looking at them. Also, it seems like there are already signs in place at a few stations (e.g. Cumberland) that could show this information, but currently do not. If this train arrival information is already available, why not show it now? If not, this is going to be a lot more complicated than just installing a couple of fancy plasma displays at the stations.

Also, by the end of the contract, these signs will probably be in need of extensive repair and/or replacement.

And don't forget, the replacement parts will probably only be available from the company itself....at a very, very high price...


I hope there is a sound that will indicate the train is coming. The old southport station used to have a bell sounding that the train was arriving. So if you were in the station, you knew to hurry up.
I noticed the other day, that the bell was not reconnected to the new station and it is back to a guessing game

I hope the train information is displayed somewhat like it is in the DC Metro. DC's screens show the line name, estimated number of minutes until arrival at the station, and the number of cars on that particular train. As for changing Chicago's motto, I always liked Mike Royko's suggestion that it be changed from Urbs in Horto to Ubi est Meum? (Where's Mine).

Just as long as the CTA doesn't take too many cues from WMATA (Washington Metro) - their ETA signs are great, but their pre-recorded announcements on the trains are obnoxious (or, "assault by xylophone" as I like to refer to the process of closing the doors).

I think this is fantastic. I do custom audio/video work on site for a variation of companies (airports, restaurants, public washrooms) and have done some work in the passed for Titian digital. They are fairly cutting edge on the digital display front (IE they dont mind throwing some cash around for good equipment) and am looking forward what they do with this. As well with the time it takes for a display to age I'm sure they will be replaced several times before Titans contract is up to keep up with new technology advancements.

Regarding the ad space on the display. In other displays tied in with company announcements i've done they generally only used a fraction of the space for ads, or the ad space is only used a portion of the time and shared with company announcements.

What i wonder is if the CTA will remove the overall useless red LED displays in light of this. Remember CTA.. please keep it simple and minimalist. The new stations/refurbed stations look great and I'd hate to see a bunch of metal piping thrown up all over the place.

Sweet, now I'll know if I have to wait 20-30 minutes in the freezing fricking cold for a Pink Line train during rush in the morning from Washington and Wells or I should just jump on an Orange Line to catch the Green to Clinton.

it's funny how many other cities have had this for a long, long time....

Er, so the scrolling LED displays they put in all over the place at (presumably) great expense really were just to tell us the time and date? There I was thinking they would eventually carry the train timing information. But then why do that when you can diplay color advertising on a whole new netwrok of screens?

It would be interesting to know whether the screens will truly just give a countdown to the next train's arrival or whether they will display estimated arrival times for the next few trains, as is the case everywhere else that has such technology (including the bus tracker system). The latter would be much more helpful at stations shared by more than one train line. If the next pink line train isn't coming for 42 minutes, you want to know that before the orange line train closes its doors and pulls out of the station, not right after.

Also, all this talk is just about having the information on the station platforms; my hope (perhaps unduly optimistic) is that because it's a given in this day and age that such information would also be put on the web. That, of course, is where the information will be at its most useful, since by the time you're at the platform there's really not much you can actually *do* with train arrival information a lot of the time (since even if the wait for the train is going to be significant, there often won't be an alternate route available that is any better). More useful would be to know *before* you head to the train that, hey, you should stay where you are for another 20 minutes rather than go wait out in the cold/heat/rain/snow. Or that you should take the bus near your office rather than walking 8 minutes to the train station. Etc. Etc.

Absolutely spectacular. This is a service long desired and a way to add revenue to boot!

"I hope the train information is displayed somewhat like it is in the DC Metro. DC's screens show the line name, estimated number of minutes until arrival at the station, and the number of cars on that particular train."

I agree. I now live in DC and find these displays, as Martha mentioned, very helpful. I am a deaf woman, thus I cannot hear PA announcements. Metra has something similar, but all the CTA signs do is tell me not to smoke, which 'L' stops are closed on the Brown Line, and the time and date.

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