The Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) achieved a 92 percent accuracy rate for real-time bus arrival prediction, building from AVL/CAD technology to include GPS.

CTA's experience with advanced wayfinding technologies

May 2011
Chicago; Illinois; United States

Summary Information

The Federal Transit Administration sponsored a study to provide federal guidance to transit agencies on current and future trends in the application of traveler information technologies as a means to expand transit agency deployments of these tools, which may result in an increase in transit ridership. The study provides a technology evaluation that:
  • Offers an understanding of wayfinding technologies and describes products and services.
  • Provides an overview of the benefits of these technologies and services for transit agencies and users.
  • Identifies challenges experienced by transit agencies regarding the use and implementation of wayfinding technologies, and gaps that exist in current technologies.
  • Identifies user needs to achieve broader deployment of wayfinding technologies by transit agencies.


    The research team conducted a literature review and interviewed a total of 63 public and private organizations from across the nation, including transit agencies, State departments of transportation, university research centers, software developers, metropolitan planning organizations, and others. Additionally, the team visited seven major metropolitan areas where transit agencies were identified as leaders in the innovative use of transit wayfinding technologies. The case studies highlight significant technologies in the regions, and detail challenges and lessons learned to help facilitate the growth of advanced wayfinding technologies.


    The Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) and Pace Suburban bus were among the early providers of real-time transit information. Beginning with a foundation of Automatic Vehicle Location/Computer- aided Dispatch (AVL/CAD), the on-board systems now include GPS functionality to provide real-time bus information for both internal operations and external customers. CTA used a slow, steady, and deliberate approach to the rollout of real-time information systems, allowing it to thoroughly fine-tune the data and improve arrival prediction accuracy.
    • As a result, the Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) has a 92% accuracy rate for bus arrival prediction.

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Traveler Information Systems and Wayfinding Technologies in Transit Systems: Summary of State-of-the-Practice and State-of-the-Art

Author: Jackson, D. W., Burger, C., Cotton, B., Linthicum, A., Mejias, L., Regan, T., and Filosa, G.

Published By: USDOT, Federal Transit Administration

Source Date: May 2011



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Typical Deployment Locations

Metropolitan Areas


Wayfinding, Traveler Information, ITS Standards, Open Architecture, Open Source, Real-Time Data, Transit

Benefit ID: 2013-00855