The new screen shows estimated train arrival times most of the time. If you watch it long enough, you will see weather information.
A new feature that debuted at the Chicago Transit Authority’s Oakton-Skokie station in April and Morgan station in May gives riders better Train Tracker information without a noisy distraction. The brand new digital information screens provide useful countdown times to the next train “at nearly all times” without the chaff offered by existing screens in the CTA system.
These screens are more informative than the loud and large Titan screens seen at more stations; they also rarely display the number of minutes until the next train. When Grid Chicago asked the CTA about its intentions in using the new screens, spokesperson Brian Steele replied, “They’re consciously designed to focus on real-time customer information, and don’t show ads, agency promotions or PSAs”.
A Titan screen at the Sox-35th Red Line station shows a trivia question.
The presence of these and Titan screens are not mutually exclusive. In the CTA’s agreement with the outdoor advertising company, Steele described the relationship, “Titan chooses the locations to install its screens. Ridership and sales opportunity vary by station, and both factor into Titan’s choice of locations.”
This 10-second video demonstrates how loud the Titan screens are.
Costs and revenue play a factor in deployment, though. The new screens are paid for by CTA, with each unit costing $8,000, purchased from Global Display Solutions in Rockford, Illinois; this includes a one-year hardware and three years of support. Steele noted that these are “heavy-duty devices designed for outdoor environments”). The Titan screens, by contrast, generate revenue for CTA (and are installed at Titan’s expense). Perhaps the two could modify their agreement so the Titan screens show Train Tracker times more often, or in a short bar on the bottom of the screen.
A reader on Twitter asked how blind passengers are accommodated. I emailed Steele, to which he responded, “Important information such as service announcements and reroute information are currently announced over the PA at rail stations. The new screens do not have audio capability, but CTA is looking at ways to provide more information in more formats (such as audio) down the road as our technological capabilities at stations are developed.”
Which screen do you prefer?
In related news, Titan has installed an “urban outdoor” screen on the south end of the staircase on Halsted Street at the Grand Blue Line station. This screen provides transit information in addition to advertisements, like the platform screens.
N.B. Blair Kamin, the Chicago Tribune’s punctilious architecture critic, gives a full review of the Morgan station design on his Cityscapes blog. The firm of Ross Barney Architects designed the station. They are also designing the upcoming Green Line station at Cermak Road. They’re also a consultant on the Bloomingdale Trail project.
Updated 12:25 to add new information that responds to reader comments (about audio provisions and cost of screens). Updated June 14, 13:09, to correct information about the “urban outdoor” screen.
Grid Chicago is a blog about sustainable transportation matters, projects and culture in Chicago and Illinois, by John Greenfield and Steven Vance since June 2011.
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