Metra announced new GPS technology Tuesday that lets customers see where their trains are and when the trains will reach the station, and the Chicago Transit Authority announced changes to its bus tracking system to create more reliable service for commuters.
The Metra GPS technology was slated to start Tuesday at Metratracker.com, a new real-time train tracking website that officials said will make it easier to view schedules and plan a trip.
“This new train tracking system is a major upgrade and will be a dramatic improvement in our communications to My Metra customers,” Metra CEO/Executive Director Jim Derwinski said. “It enables us to do a better job of tracking trains and conveying timely, accurate information, and also includes a variety of interactive new features.”
The site’s main menu features three gray bars that lead to the main functions: station times, a real-time map and a trip planner. Users can request the “BestRoute,” “Fewer Transfers” or “Less Walking” and choose “Leave Now,” or enter their preferred departure or arrival time.
The CTA announced changes to the schedules on nearly half of its bus routes, intended to provide more reliable service.
The schedule changes aim to better align scheduled service with the currently available workforce, establish more consistent intervals between buses and reduce large or inconsistent gaps in service, officials said.
The temporary schedule changes to 52 bus routes throughout the network, including many of CTA’s highest-ridership routes, will address the unpredictability of wait times.
The CTA is facing an unprecedented shortage of workers, especially bus and rail operators. The agency’s recruiting and hiring efforts have attracted more than 400 new workers in 2022. But it is still short about 600 bus operators and will continue recruiting in 2023 to address the gap, officials said.
“As we did last year with rail schedules, we’re working to provide more consistency and reliability, which is what customers have asked for and what we promised,” CTA President Dorval R. Carter, Jr. said. “We recognize there is more work to do, but we are moving in the right direction and will continue to make additional adjustments to improve service for our customers. Our ultimate goal is to build back our workforce to provide all the transit service our customers deserve.”
The bus schedule optimizations took effect Sunday in conjunction with the union schedule “pick” process. Service hours have not changed, nor have routes or days of service.
The CTA said the schedule changes will improve bus tracker accuracy, and that customers should see fewer instances of “ghost buses” throughout the system.