A CTA passenger waits for a train in the snow at Belmont Brown Line station. Photo by Mike Priorie.
Knowing when your bus or train is about to come can help you make better decisions. “Do I have enough time to get coffee from the shop across the street?” “Can I pack my own lunch today?” “If I miss this bus because I can’t find my good shoes, how long will it be to the next one”? I’m sure we’ve all asked ourselves these questions*. The Chicago Transit Authority’s transit tracking services can help with the answers. Continue reading The state of transit trackers in Chicago
Transit Tracks makes it very easy to find stops near you, and doesn’t place restrictions on how many appear in the map.
I reviewed only the free versions. Updated October 19, 2011, to add a third transit tracker app.
||Chicago Transit Tracker Lite
||TreKing 4 Free
- Locates nearest bus stop
- Shows system alerts from CTA
- Shows current temperature
- Shows time of last update
- Locates ALL nearby bus stops using your GPS
- Has a more logical method to manually select bus stops and train stations
- Allows you to group favorite stops/stations
- Has better aesthetics – easier to read favorites listing
- User swipes the screen to show the opposite direction bus or train
- System map shows the familiar Google Maps and allows user to select nearby bus stops and train stations
- When no more service, reports “No running buses”
- Pro version offers Metra schedules and Pace bus predictions (I didn’t test this)
- Very logical method to select your bus stop or train station (this is called a “trek”)
- Lets you save a custom name for a specific stop or station (but gives predefined name)
- Allows you to group saved stops/stations
- Quick Treks feature locates nearby stops and stations
- Pro version has a trip planner (“Trek Planner”)
- Move, rename, or delete groups by holding your finger on the group (very easy)
- It appears you can set alerts in the pay version that tell you when to get off the bus/train, or when the bus/train is about to arrive
- In the pay version you can add time to the prediction so you’re less likely to miss a bus/train if it’s early
- Only displays a single nearby bus stop in free version using your GPS
- Shows ads in free version
- Favorites listing appears in a confusing way
- Shows ALL system alerts, and not ones relevant to my favorite routes
- System map loads a CTA website
- When no more service, reports “No arrival times”
- To add a favorite stop manually, text search function works in unexpected way
- To add a favorite stop manually, the choices are confusing. There are 4 choices for Addison-Blue, one for each possible terminus (Forest Park, Jefferson Park, O’Hare, UIC)
- Does not retrieve system alerts from CTA
- Does not show temperature
- Does not show time of last update
- Shows ads
- When you first select CTA Trains as the system you want to track, a huge list of confusing caveats shows up. I don’t think they’re all true.
- Method to select your trip route takes a lot of time
- Selecting a “To Stop”, which is optional, doesn’t change anything
- Shows ads
- Quick Trek feature in free version limited to 1/8th mile (one block)
- There isn’t a function you do without the app showing a popup to tell you about the pay version
- Map nearly useless in free version: it will only show bus stop with ID 1
- Map nearly useless in free version: it will only show bus route with route 1, Indiana/Hyde Park
- Map in free version doesn’t show bus location in real-time
- “Trek Planner” in free version only shows trip from your location to Sears Tower or Navy Pier – your choice!
On grouping: One group could be for the stops/stations you use to get to work and the other group could be for the return trip.
My recommendation: Transit Tracks. It’s very hard to review TreKing 4 Free because it seems most features are only available in the pay version.
A Metra train passes over a congested highway in Chicago.
Congress is “debating” (it doesn’t always seem like a debate but a shouting match full of poorly chosen words) President Obama’s American Jobs Act right now; the latest news is that the Senate has rewritten the bill to add a new 5% tax on income above $1 million. The bill also includes allocations and competitive grant funding for capital* infrastructure projects, for Amtrak, transit, and road (which would include a tiny bit for bicycle and pedestrian projects) and bridge repair and other types. Read the Act.
Infrastructurist has an idea on how that money could be distributed differently:
Take Obama’s latest proposed jobs bill, which includes $27 billion for immediate spending on highways and bridges, and around $9 billion for rail. Clearly, that’s a huge tilt. What about changing that ratio of fund distribution, on the basis that nearly every large city is currently working to introduce transit? In other words, what if we gave $27 billion to transit, and $9 billion to roads?
It’s already been shown that bike lanes and transit projects provide more jobs for the dollar than road building.
Bicycling infrastructure creates the most jobs for a given level of spending: For each $1 million, the cycling projects in this study create a total of 11.4 jobs within the state where the project is located.
…road-only projects create the least, with a total of 7.8 jobs per $1 million. (Reuters)
We’re for giving transit the funding priority.
*In some cases the bill allows for 10% of the money received to be used for operating expenses.
This is the second of a series of interviews I hope to conduct with all fifty Chicago aldermen about walking, biking and transit issues in their ward. Earlier this year I talked to 27th Ward Alderman Walter Burnett. Last month I spoke with 25th Ward Alderman Daniel “Danny” Solis, whose district includes such diverse neighborhoods as Pilsen, Chinatown, University Village and Little Italy. The different ethnicities of his ward are reflected by the artwork in his City Hall office, including works by Mexican, Italian, African-American and Chinese artists, including a life-size replica of a terra cotta soldier from the mausoleum of Emperor Qin Shi Huang.
We discussed Solis’ efforts to improve pedestrian safety in his ward after a hit-and-run pedestrian fatality at 18th and Halsted, the upcoming protected bike lane on 18th between Canal and Clark and the pros and cons of the Pink Line conversion. We also talked about his dream of a bike/ped path along 16th, the new sustainable streetscape in his ward, and his upcoming trip to Amsterdam to study bike infrastructure. Continue reading Talking transportation with 25th Ward Alderman Danny Solis
John and I are still gathering information for our Open Streets article, which will be co-written and published Tuesday. Also on Tuesday is another public meeting about the Bloomingdale Trail, where the designers and consultants will showcase the results of this past weekend’s open house and charrettes (I went on Saturday). I will publish an article about the Tuesday presentation on Thursday, October 6. There are five stories in this edition of Grid Bits.
(1) Taxi drivers
Click on the photo to read the photographer’s caption. I found this by searching on Flickr for “stupid taxi chicago” in order to find people’s opinions. Photo by Nick Normal.
The Chicago Tribune reported on September 23, 2011, that many of the tickets Chicago police give to taxi drivers are dismissed in court. When a taxi driver receives commits three moving violations in one year, they risk having their chauffeur’s license not renewed. Continue reading Grid Bits: UP-North construction to restart, taxi drivers and street safety, new CTA Loop station
What bike sharing might look like on the streets of Chicago. Photo of Capital BikeShare, in Washington, D.C., by M.V. Jantzen.
Updated 11:11 AM: I should have mentioned originally that I believe this is a good idea for Chicago, and the RFP presents a solid plan on how the City expects it to be implemented and operated. 22:46: Added more information about potential bidders, Alta Bicycle Share and B-Cycle.
I just finished reading the request for proposals (RFP) for Chicago’s first (er, second) bike sharing program. For the uninitiated, most bike sharing programs allow members unlimited free trips per day up to 30 minutes with a low fee for each 30 minute period after that. Locks are not provided so users are expected to secure the bikes by docking them at stations rather than locking them to bike racks or sign poles.
Chicago Department of Transportation Commissioner Gabe Klein and his managing deputy commissioner Scott Kubly together launched a 1,100 bikes and 100+ stations bike sharing system in September 2010. It had its one year birthday on Tuesday, September 20, 2011. Now the pair have come to Chicago to do it again. Continue reading Bike sharing will come to Chicago in 2012