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RTA Board Approves Innovative Projects that will Enhance the Customer Experience

August 15, 2012

The Regional Transportation Authority (RTA) Board of Directors approved today nearly $16 million for six projects that will make commuting easier and more efficient for transit riders.

The projects, funded through the use of a two-year RTA Innovation Coordination and Enhancement (ICE) program budget of $15.92 million, will be implemented by the Chicago Transit Authority, Metra and Pace to advance the vision and goals of the RTA’s regional priorities initiative of Enhancing the Customer Experience.

“The key objective of the ICE program is to provide a seamless and reliable commuting experience,” said Leanne Redden, Senior Deputy Executive Director, Planning. “These are high impact projects that can be quickly implemented and provide our customers with a more convenient trip on transit.”

The following ICE projects were approved:

  • Real Time Next-Bus Signs for shelters and key transit centers in Pace’s service area
  • Advanced Paging System at all 145 CTA train stations
  • CTA Customer Information Displays system-wide
  • Blue Island/Vermont Street interagency transfer signage improvements
  • Pilot/Demo Projects to Test New Regional Fare Solution Technologies for Metra
  • Regional Transit Fare System Program Management and Systems Integration for Metra

Most projects are slated to be implemented beginning late 2012 to early 2013. A full description of each project is attached.

The Innovation, Coordination, and Enhancement (ICE) program, established as part of the 2008 amendments to the RTA Act provides operating and/or capital funding for projects that provide cost-effective ways to enhance the coordination and integration of public transportation, and develop and implement innovations to improve the quality and delivery of public transportation.

The RTA previously approved funding for customer enhancements now in use including the CTA’s real time arrival signs on bus shelters that debuted last year and Metra’s Rail Time Tracker announced in June that provides riders with up-to-the-minute train schedule information through Metra's website and mobile devices.

RTA Innovation, Coordination and Enhancement (ICE) Program of Projects

Real Time Signage

This project includes the purchase and installation of real-time next-bus signs for shelters and transit centers in Pace’s service area. The project will have an interagency coordination component on signs located at stops that serve CTA and/or Metra customers. Implementation expected to begin in late 2012/ early 2013.

Advanced Paging System

This project will support the CTA’s effort to implement a new technology that will upgrade paging at all 145 rail stations allowing staff to better communicate with customers. This technology will allow mass notification via the Public Address (PA) system and will display announcements directly to CTA’s Train Tracker signs. This system meets ADA guidelines for providing written words so that hearing impaired riders are able to get information. Implementation expected to begin in late 2012 / early 2013.

Customer Information Displays

This project will support the CTA’s effort to install Digital Customer Information Displays and non-digital customer focused information throughout the system. Digital displays provide real time bus tracker and/or train tracker information as appropriate, system status updates and CTA customer alerts. These are interspersed with paid advertisements, time and weather information. The paid advertisements support the operation of the displays and provide a source of revenue to CTA. Implementation expected to begin in late 2012 / early 2013.

Blue Island/Vermont Street Interagency Transfer Improvements

The Blue Island Vermont Street Station is a hub of interagency transfer activity between Metra, Pace, and CTA. Transit service in this station area is provided by four Pace bus routes (348, 349, 359, and 385), one CTA bus route (49A), and three Metra lines or branches (Metra Electric Blue Island Branch, Rock Island District Beverly Branch, and Rock Island District Main Line). Improvements to the Blue Island, Vermont Street Interagency Transfer Station would include additional interagency signage at multiple locations, including both Metra stations. Implementation expected to begin in late 2012 / early 2013.

Pilot/Demo Projects to Test New Regional Fare Solution Technologies

Early this year, Metra staff formed an internal Working Group and established a timeline for the implementation of a Regional Fare Solution required by the legislation adopted in 2008 (Illinois Public Act 097-0085). This project will allow Metra to conduct various pilot/demo projects that will help Metra staff get a better understanding of what best fare payment solutions and technologies are available. Metra was awarded $880,000 in re-programmed ICE funding for this type of project in October 2010 but has yet to initiate it. For that reason, only 2013 ICE funding (subject to appropriation) is proposed for this project. Implementation expected to begin in 2014.

Regional Transit Fare System Program Management and Systems Integration

This project will allow Metra to select a fare systems management team to serve in a program management oversight and systems integrator role. This expert would have a strong background in implementing other transit fare technologies and/or systems at various transit peer agencies, relationships with the banking industry, and expertise in the various technologies that Metra is considering. Implementation expected to begin in late 2012 / early 2013.

Press Information

Melissa Meyer

Communications Manager
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