Train Tracker Widescreen Sign Update
A wide-format, full-color Train Tracker screen shows arrivals toward Howard overnight during the Red Line South Reconstruction Project.

CTA Train Tracker Screen Update

We’re rolling out an update (see news release) to the newer Train Tracker screens you’ve probably noticed going in across the ‘L’ system. This update applies to the new, thin, full-color signs we’ve installed that show only arrival information.

Update: This page is on our site for archival purposes. These updates were rolled out systemwide in 2014, with some modifications (such as faster cycling than what's shown in videos below) based on feedback and field observations.

Information on this page is about an upcoming update to signs that look like the one in the photo, above.

This update will help to streamline how information is presented and get the info you need more quickly.

What's new?

The key improvements are that these signs will show better, more important info.

  • Signs will be able to show customer alert information (the same info we post on Twitter or send out by text message to those who've subscribed).
  • We'll begin individually configuring signs to better focus on the information that is most important based on where a given sign is placed.



Sample on-screen behaviors

Because our stations have a variety of layouts and sign placements, we're testing a few different ways of fine-tuning what info is shown. For example, some stations have side platforms and some have island platforms with signs that are centered due to limited space.

examples showing varying layout

Here are just some examples of the configurations we'll be testing:

Grand (Red Line) and Garfield (Green Line)
Platform signs (and those over stairwells in the mezzanine at Grand) show just the next two estimated arrivals for that platform.

The sign over the entrance kiosk at Garfield will show the next two estimated arrivals in each direction in a scrolling list.

Lake (Red Line) and Washington and Grand (Blue Line)
Signs over the centered platform will show the next two estimated arrivals in each direction in a scrolling list. The most immediate two will show slightly longer than the following two (regardless of destination).

Merchandise Mart (Brown and Purple Lines) and Randolph/Wabash (Loop ‘L’)
Signs over the platforms will show the next few arrivals to that platform, but hold the most imminent one on screen so it’s always evident what is next approaching. Up to the next two of any line serving each platform will flipped through on the lower portion of the screen.

The sign at the entrance to Merchandise Mart, before you get to the platforms, will show the next two estimated arrivals in each direction in a scrolling list.


Sample videos

These samples show how arrivals will appear in a few locations while we test behaviors and get feedback before a wider rollout.

Western (Brown Line, side platform)
This screen shows just the next two arrivals for the track adjacent to where the sign is hung:

Randolph/Wabash (Inner Loop Platform)
This screen shows up to the next two arrivals for each route serving this platform, while holding the first row so it's clear what train is coming next at all times:

Lake (Red Line)
This screen shows a combined set of arrivals in both directions for the Lake platform, showing the most imminent two for a longer period of time than subsequent results:

This is a sample to demonstrate how alerts would appear in the sequence of information, during only when something is presently affecting service:


Test stations

The roll-out of some of these nuanced improvements in how information is presented will be gradual.

This will allow us to test the improvements in a variety of station types (island platforms, side platforms, multi-route) are and gather feedback from customers who use stations before we make widespread changes.

We're doing testing at these, initial stations (and will gradually add more):

  • Merchandise Mart (Brown, Purple Lines)
  • Western (Brown Line)
  • Grand (Blue Line)
  • Grand (Red Line)
  • Lake (Red Line)
  • Washington (Blue Line)
  • Randolph/Wabash (Loop ‘L’)
  • Garfield (Green Line)
  • Morgan (Green and Pink Lines)
  • Clinton (entrance-only, Green and Pink Lines)


Even more details

If you really want to know what some of the new abilities are in full, technical detail, here's a more thorough run-down of some of the fine tuning we'll have at our disposal:

  • All signs will begin to show events affecting service (planned or unplanned) while service is affected--you'll start seeing this on signs sooner than some of the more specific, fine-tuning we'll talk about on this page.
  • Rows of arrivals on signs will be shown with a number so it’s clearer whether what your seeing is one of the very next arrivals, or trains that are a little further out.
  • Platform signs, in many locations, will continually show the next two trains to arrive at the platform/track where the sign is placed.
  • Platform signs that are shared between tracks or lines will scroll through just the next two or three trains in each direction, so the train you’re likely to board will appear more frequently.
  • Signs at entrances that lead to multiple platforms will show the most imminent arrivals a little longer than subsequent ones, but still show trains a little further out so you know whether or not you need to hurry or can grab a cup of coffee.
  • Signs specific to a single track, when showing more than just the next two arrivals, may “hold” the first row and/or show the most imminent arrivals for a longer period of time (so the next service gets more screen time than information that isn’t as immediate).




We want to know what you think!

Once the signs have been up for a few days, we’ll be making trips out to stations to get feedback from customers on the platforms, and welcome feedback online through a survey specifically about these signs.

Following the feedback we receive, we’ll settle on what we think are the best possible configurations for these stations and begin rolling out the update to all of this style sign.

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