Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Another Useful CTA Tool - CTA Bus Tracker!

Tired of waiting outside in rain and snow for the bus? The CTA has really rolled out their Bus Tracker system (ontop of the already successful CTA Trip Planner)!

As you can see from the screen shot to the left, you can actually see where buses are on their routes.

The intuitiveness of this tool is mediocre. I would expect to see buses immediately once the tool starts, but you actually have to select routes from the toolbox on the upper right hand corner of the screen. Once you get the hang of it though, it is great. You can select up to 5 routes to view and then get out to the stop just in the nick of time!

Monday, July 28, 2008

Tricking the CTA Trip Planner - Breaking Down Your Trip

Some of my tenants have reported lately that the RTA Trip Planner doesn't seem to return the best route and then they can't get an accurate time for the route that they think they should take. Sometimes, this happens due to schedule issues (some routes may not be running on a particular day or a particular time). If you have verified (by looking at the route schedule) that the route is indeed running at that time, do the following:

1) Check to make sure your Arrival or Departure time in the application is properly selected.
2) If it is properly selected, then split your trip into two parts and enter the parts individually.

This will, in turn, get your trip close to correct. If you do each leg separately, you should be able to get a more accurate time for your trip duration. A pain in the rear, but it works.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Cool Site Added to the CTA Website

I was using the CTA Trip Planner earlier today and noticed that they have recently added a link for Drive Less. Live More. - A website that allows you to compare savings if you take public transit vs. driving your car. Pretty cool site, check it out.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Google Vs. RTA Trip Planeer Take 2

One more thing that the CTA Trip Planner (RTA Version) has that the Google Trip Planner doesn't is also one of the biggest. I can't believe I overlooked this in my chart from the first post:

The RTA Version, as the name implies, has ALL of the RTA routes as well as CTA routes: Pace Buses, Metra Rail Lines and CTA buses and trains. The Google Version just has CTA buses and trains. Happy traveling and good luck!

Monday, July 21, 2008

Double Checking Your Trips

I've seen a lot of people take some pretty silly routes at the suggestion of the CTA Trip Planner. You need to really make sure that your route makes the most sense of all your options. You also need to give ample consideration to whether or not the subway alone is your best option. Buses can be pretty useful in Chicago. One of the easiest and often most overlooked solutions to your route is the very intuitive GRID system in Chicago.

You need to first understand how Chicago's addressing and grid system is laid out. When most of Chicago burned down in 1871, it was a planner's dream and as a result, Chicago today is a very well laid out grid. In fact, it is better planned an laid out than most people realize. The addressing system is based on there being 8 standard city blocks per mile (or a range of 800 addresses). The center point of the addressing system can be found at State St (N/S street demarking 0 E/W) and Madison Ave (E/W Street demarking 0 N/S).

There are major streets spaced apart on the half-mile are going to be the crux of what I'm about to lay out here. For a listing of these streets, go to: Major Chicago Streets

Typically, the CTA Trip Planner will give you some pretty weird combinations to take and for some reason it overlooks the fact that just about every major street in Chicago has its own bus line. In most circumstances, this means you will have under a 1/2 mile walk to or from the stop on either end if you simply jump on the nearest north/south bus on one of these major streets and take it to the next east/west bus that will land you closest to your destination. Basically, you should be able to arrive almost anywhere in the city using just 2 buses.