RTA plans way to offer best routes to riders

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The Regional Transportation Authority thinks it will get many more riders if it simply tells people how to get from Point A to Point B in real time.

Right now, the CTA, Metra and Pace each keep riders posted on their own transit systems. The RTA has a similar service called Goroo. But no one offers a real-time information service that tells riders how to get around the metropolitan area using all of the available services.

“We know where every piece of rolling stock is every day, 24/7, 365 days a year,” says RTA Chairman John S. Gates. “We just don’t tell anybody.”

The RTA’s idea, tentatively called Transit Tracker, might be doing that by next year, with the help of Google and other app developers. As envisioned, the service would tell people the most efficient way to get around, perhaps with the mix of a Pace bus, a Metra train and a CTA bus or train. It would take account the time of day and offer only options that actually are running. It would even know if a particular train or bus was out of service because of mechanical problems and steer riders to a different route.

In short, the system would show a rider the quickest route at that moment in time.

“We will be the first system in the world to have this,” Gates says.

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