08/15/2011 03:35 pm ET | Updated Oct 15, 2011

New CTA Data Released In Time For Chicago App Contest Deadline

Ever wish there was a way to predict--and avoid--the thousands of neighborhood events and attractions that can jam up an L platform without warning? Or to know if it’s worth waiting for the next bus to get a seat? There could soon be an app for that.

Submissions for the Transportation Round of the Apps for Metro Chicago are due before midnight Monday, and those vying for nearly $15,000 in prizes can utilize the CTA’s unprecedented release of mapping, ridership and farecard sales data to develop commute-altering apps.

Previously unreleased mapping data will allow developers to “visualize and analyze CTA service locations and availability in relation to ridership patterns, demographics and other information that helps CTA strategically plan service to best serve all of metro Chicago,” according to a CTA press release. “They can now plot CTA services and facilities on maps which can be cross referenced with other data (such as census data) in software like Google Earth.”

This new ridership information will also allow people to “dive deep into the numbers” and view raw ridership statistics, by bus route or train station, both daily and monthly (in totals and averages), as well as annual statistics for both bus and rail back to the 1980s. Sales outlet data can highlight additional kiosks to buy or add value to farecards beyond L stations.

The data includes useful observations like the station that holds the top four single-day station entry tallies (Belmont, during the annual Gay & Lesbian Pride Parade for the last four years).

Finalists in the Transportation Round of the smartphone/tablet application development contest will be announced Friday, when public voting will open for one week to determine the winning software. What type of information does a Chicago commuter most need on the go? Tell us your ideas or suggestions in the comments.

Flickr photo by davidwilson1949