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Grab your phone right now and send the message “CTATRAIN THOR” to 41411. Or send “ctatrain logs” to the same number. Wait a moment.

Clever, right?

That’s right, you can now get predicted train arrival times for all 143 CTA stations via text message – get all the station codes here. The system is very fast: responses came back to me within 5 seconds. The Chicago Transit Authority will introduce several more new features this week, including adding favorite stops on the website. The “Train Tracker by Text”, as they’re calling it, is in beta, so if something unexpected happens, please let CTA know so they can correct any problems.

Can you guess what station HALO belongs to? What’s the whackiest station code you found? The use of mnemonic devices, which are often phonetically similar, to identify train stations to quickly send a short message is good usability in the design of this system.

Three possible codes to send

CTATRAIN BELM – Get predicted train arrival times for the Belmont Red Line station.

CTATRAIN BLUE – Get a stop list for the Blue Line.

CTATRAIN H – Get some quick (help) instructions on how to interact with the system. You can also reply to any message from the system with “H” to get the help instructions. The system remembers your last message and knows that you were seeking information about CTATRAIN.

Read past coverage on the state of CTA’s transit trackers. TextMarks is the CTA’s text messaging provider. 

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  • Dennis McClendon

    Seems clear to me.  First four characters, unless there are multiple stations with the same name, in which case the last character is the first letter of the line color.  So HALO is Halsted on the Orange.

    • Clark Wellington

      Ah, but it can’t be quite that simple, judging by the Belmont example above… If your rule held, we’d have to use BELR, BELP or BELB for that station. And if it were the last one, how would we distinguish it from the Belmont Blue Line?