Discussion related to commuter rail and rapid transit operations in the Chicago area including the South Shore Line, Metra Rail, and Chicago Transit Authority.

Moderators: JamesT4, metraRI

  by F40CFan
 
Well, Mr. Satellite went senile this morning on train 2220. After Franklin Park we run express to Western Ave. However, it decided to call out stops at Elmwood Park, Mars and Hansen Park also. Just the "The next stop wil be..." announcement, not the "Now Approacing...." one.

Since I know of no train that makes only the Elmwood Park, Mars and Hansen Park inbound stops, it seems the system screwed up and not the conductor.

  by metraRI
 
I have yet to hear any mess ups with the system, surprisingly it does not have a problem getting RI's branch stops right. Of course, there isn't time to get to the "Now Approaching" part.

  by F40CFan
 
Well, we had the stutters this morning on 2220. Starting with "The next stop will be Western Ave" announcement, it repeated everything. Sometimes stepping on itself. That made it real easy to understand.... Modern technocrap.

  by Tadman
 
I like the way CTA operators have a little screen in the cab they can over-ride the robot with. It seems to cut down on errors, cos I never heard the CTA robot voice go haywire. It seems they should have one trainman assigned to monitor a screen as part of his duties - after every highball, shut the doors, check the screen to ensure the next announcements are cued, and then go lift tickets.

  by metraRI
 
Does the CTA system use GPS.. I always thought it was a manual system.

  by EricL
 
metraRI wrote:Does the CTA system use GPS.. I always thought it was a manual system.
Yes, the CTA system is manual. The motorman punches in his run number when he starts, and the computer loads up a list of all the voice cues, in proper order. He just punches a button to make each one talk.
F40CFan wrote:Well, Mr. Satellite went senile this morning on train 2220. After Franklin Park we run express to Western Ave. However, it decided to call out stops at Elmwood Park, Mars and Hansen Park also. Just the "The next stop wil be..." announcement, not the "Now Approacing...." one.
Is 2239 still "terminating" in Hanover Park? ;)
  by meh
 
Although we can't use a search engine to find an online discussion forum from the time to see what people thought then, I have to think that similar laments of the decline of the social order followed prior (non-digital) advances in technology. (I've heard of things called books and indexes which supposedly allow one to "Google" information about people from these long-ago times.)

"I can't believe how lazy people are today, letting electric machines wash their laundry and their dishes, open their cans and their garages, clean their ovens and their carpets, warm their homes, and carry them upstairs."

"Why would anyone ride around in one of those Ford contraptions or a streetcar when they have a perfectly good horse and wagon in the barn?"

"Can you believe that Thor and his family get their food by trading arrowheads with Grog's family for it rather than hunting and gathering their own?"

I'm sure that each of these technologies initially was much-derided by some and had a non-zero failure rate that could be criticized in comparison to the old technology. But over time many of them were deemed to be more beneficial than harmful and thus became so woven into society that most people now would think it strange and old-fashioned not to use them. Eventually they come to seem so low-tech that it's hard to remember a time without that technology.

  by Tadman
 
I don't advocate dumping GPS-based announcements, just allowing a little 4" TV screen so our friendly ticket lifters can make a quick check to ensure they aren't going to have confused passengers or missed connections, etc... This would also allow a manual override in case the satellite took a hike.

  by MikeF
 
Tadman wrote:I don't advocate dumping GPS-based announcements, just allowing a little 4" TV screen so our friendly ticket lifters can make a quick check to ensure they aren't going to have confused passengers or missed connections, etc... This would also allow a manual override in case the satellite took a hike.
For what it's worth, manual override is possible with the current system ... all the conductor has to do is pick up the microphone and make the announcements himself.

  by F40CFan
 
MikeF wrote:For what it's worth, manual override is possible with the current system ... all the conductor has to do is pick up the microphone and make the announcements himself.
DING!!!

The only meaningful announcements I've ever heard on the train, especially regarding delays, have come from the conductor. The canned delay messages are a joke.

They should keep the GPS tracking technology and drop the audio. They should keep the LED announcements for the hard-of-hearing, but only if the conductor can override it with corrections.

  by metrarider
 
F40CFan wrote:Well, we had the stutters this morning on 2220. Starting with "The next stop will be Western Ave" announcement, it repeated everything. Sometimes stepping on itself. That made it real easy to understand.... Modern technocrap.
If it's the same train that's having problems, I'd suggest it's operator error on the part of the conductor.

While I've experienced a few instances where the system was wrong (set for the wrong train #), it was quickly corrected by the crew.

And btw - there is a small screen (2 or 3 line LCD readout) and entry panel behind an access panel near the door controls at least on the cab cars.

  by F40CFan
 
metrarider wrote:If it's the same train that's having problems, I'd suggest it's operator error on the part of the conductor
Its not always the same equipment. The system is not quite ready for prime time. I doubt very much the conductor could have set it up to step all over itself.

  by metrarider
 
F40CFan wrote:
metrarider wrote:If it's the same train that's having problems, I'd suggest it's operator error on the part of the conductor
Its not always the same equipment. The system is not quite ready for prime time. I doubt very much the conductor could have set it up to step all over itself.
Sorry I can't accept it's 'not quite ready for prime time' as it's been working very well on my commutes since they introduced it.

If there's a problem that you hear on a recurring basis it must be specific to the route/train/trainset or operator error - from my experience it certainly is not indicative of a general failing of the GPS based announcement system. Others comments on the board also seem to bear this out.

While I understand the lament on the loss of conductor announcements, I do not see (hear?) any systemic problems with the current automated announcement system.

  by byte
 
I vastly prefer the automated announcements because it's a hard-wired recording. When the conductors do it, it's always very brief, full of static, and some of them hit the button on the microphone after they've started talking. So the announcement of Chicago Ridge on the SWS, for example, would come out as *crackle*Cago Ridge*crackle*.

  by F40CFan
 
byte and metrarider, I guess we'll just have to agree to disagree.