Metra has started the rollout of metratracker.com, a new real-time train-tracking website that lets customers see precisely where their trains are and when they will reach their stations. The new site, made possible by a wholesale replacement of Metra’s current train tracking system, also makes it easier than ever to view schedules and plan a trip on Metra.
The metratracker.com site, which can be reached directly through that web address or through metra.com, features three grey bars on the menu that provide the site’s main functions:
• Station Times – This option allows customers to check for train departure times from their selected station. When they pick this option, they will be asked to select the line they use and their origination and destination stations. Once they’ve made their selections and click “Continue,” the next page will show all trains scheduled to make that trip in the next two hours, with the train numbers and predicted or scheduled departure times.
• Real-Time Map – This interactive map allows customers to see the location of trains along the line or lines that they select, so they can see exactly where their train is and how soon it will reach their station. Customers can click on stations or trains on the map to see real-time information about trains and schedules.
• Trip Planner – This option allows customers to plan a trip using Metra and other modes of travel between addresses or locations that they select. They can request the “Best Route,” “Fewer Transfers,” or “Less Walking” and choose “Leave Now” or enter their preferred departure or arrival time.
The new train tracking system from Clever Devices of Woodbury, N.Y., required the installation of new GPS tracking devices and other network equipment on more than 1,000 railcars and in 238 stations. The new train tracking equipment is currently being installed on Union Pacific, SWS and BNSF trains and tracking on those lines will increase as the rollout is completed this year.
The system has other features that will improve communications. For instance, workers in the Train Reporting and Customer Communications Center (the facility responsible for customer communications) can send texts to trains and platforms that will instantly be turned into audio announcements and displayed on platform signs. On platforms, the system will more accurately announce the arrival of the next train or announce that the next train is running express.