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CTA Tweet Alerts - a primer

You may have seen my brother Dan's guest post here a couple of weeks ago announcing the launch of CTA Tweet.  Or maybe you didn't.

Regardless, I recommend that you take a few minutes to read a story in the Columbia Chronicle about the launch by student journalist John Lendman. The story is what my brother calls the "the best researched article on the topic in three years."

Lendman is able to summarize in a relatively short article what CTA Alerts are about, what our goals are for them, where they are now with the addition of the Tweeter feed, and where they are headed in the future.

Thanks, John.


Bus tracker is down this morning!

The map function was working as of 7:30am, but the arrival time page was not. The maps only work if you're on a computer. Not having arrival times renders Tracker useless for wireless users. There was a bus supervisor at the stop where I catch my morning ride. Not sure that was connected in any way to Tracker being down. It is nice, however, to see the supervisors with laptops rather than clipboards full of tattered papers bound at the bottom with an enormous rubber band.

Darm it, Kevin, if you fix this, when will Chicagoans learn Zen mindfulness?

Did anyone else experience ridiculous delays this morning trying to get into Belmont on the red line? 25 minutes from Sheridan to Belmont, no annoucements as to the reason for the excessive delays. This was about 9am. I CANNOT wait until the 3 tracking is over with in a few months!

Also this weekend, track 4 was closed down at Howard station. My red line train on Saturday got into a backup of trains starting at Granville. The travel time Granville to Howard ended up about 20 minutes, easily double normal. Of course, no annoucements on CTA website that tracks over the weekend are closed at Howard and to expect delays. Upon arrival at Howard, the platform was jammed with people waiting for the Linden-bound Purple. The CTA didn't disappoint us by further adding to the delays and a TWO CAR purple train arrived to take on probably 3 train EIGHT car loads of transferring Red line passengers! Maybe 1/2 if that many of the people wanting Purple were able to board.

Yes, Ed, I had the pleasure of being part of the clusterflock at Howard on Sunday mid-afternoon. It worked out ok for me because my Red pulled out and the Purple came right away. I knew to get in the front car of the Red to facilitate boarding the tiny two car Purple, but it was packed. It was obvious that some passengers had been waiting a long time and were very disgruntled, not to mention the fact that the half of the platform accessible to riders was dangerously packed. I will give CTA kudos for employing critical thinking and rerouting the 92 to go to Bryn Mawr since Berwyn was closed, but it might have been a good idea to mention this in the Red Line customer alerts (22 and 36 accessibility was mentioned there) instead of just Bus Alerts.

CTA's gotten lax about mentioning Howard weekend work. I guess since an entire platform is no longer being taken out of service as it was last winter/spring, they don't feel it's necessary, but they're still taking one track out of service each way, so the end result is the same. If there's a signal problem north or south of Howard, it's a huge mess. Please allow extra travel time. We apologize for any inconvenience. Thank you for riding the CTA.

I'm still not convinced of the value over the regular alerts. Looking at the various tweet pages, the signal to noise ratio's much worse. There isn't much point in specific feeds for specific lines if it doesn't cut down on the noise, but if I want to keep up with the Red Line this way, I'm going to have to learn to enjoy things like "@ctared It's been too long, let's get together sometime" and "@ctabrown is going slow today :( I prefer @ctared." Even the main feed has vital info like "Okay, so my first bus gets in an accident and now this bus is leaky. I can't win with @ctatweet today." Why do I want that?

Bob S. re: value -- good points.

There's really no value to the CTA Tweet stuff over regular alerts for people who are already subscribers to the UPOC CTA Alerts system and who only want to be notified about honest-to-goodness service interruptions.

If you're interested in the more chatty, up-to-the-second, this-is-how-my-life-is-going on the CTA type stuff that Twitter is good for, then subscribing to the @reply feeds for individual lines is a good thing.

There is a middle ground, though. The @ctatweet feed has had some pretty good stuff in there, contributed by Twitter users who are not UPOC users. In some instances, the info was so good that I "retweeted" it to the main CTA Tweet account on Twitter". You're right, though-- there's some noise in there, too.

Bottom line: stick with UPOC if you want the best signal vs. noise ratio, and ignore everything else.

Thanks for the perspective, Dan. I'm pretty happy keeping my online and real lives separate, so your comments here are useful for me.

Is it possible to get the moron who owns the cta_alerts Twitter group to unblock numbers? I have a number that was given to me just recently, but it looks like it's blocked by the group. The admin of the group "doesn't know how to do it".

Marcus Twain: I'm not a real fan of name-calling, so if you can cool it on that, and tell me what you're talking about, maybe I can help you. danielx is my username on GMail.

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