For all the benefits of "L" travel over Chicago's buses -- speed, convenience, the ability to buy a fare card at the same place you get on -- the trains lagged behind in one important aspect: the ability to know when the next one was coming.
That's all changed today, as the CTA launched the beta version of its "Train Tracker," a follow-up to the popular and successful Bus Tracker.
There may be some imperfections in the system: it doesn't follow trains with GPS as Bus Tracker does, instead estimating travel times based on an average of recent trips over a given span of track. But our early (and highly unscientific) experiments have shown it to be pretty accurate.
Mayor Daley touted the new technology in a press release Saturday, saying it "will add another layer of convenience for visitors, tourists and especially our residents." And CTA chief Richard Rodriguez patted his agency on the back as well. "Although money is tight and our budget is lean, we are continuing to find new ways to carry out plans and ideas aimed at improving our system and the customer experience," he said in the release.
Check it out at the CTA website, and give it a try. Let us know how accurate the system is on your line, and maybe we'll get some more scientific data together.