When's my train coming? Metra to install monitors with times at every station
Metra's familiar announcements about when trains are arriving at stops will get some significant backup over the next few years.
Board directors recently approved a $20 million contract to purchase 1,452 outdoor video monitors from Global Display Solutions Inc. of Rockford.
The LCD monitors, which are weatherproof, will show when trains are coming in real time as well as travel alerts.
They will be installed at Metra's 242 stations across the railroad's 11 lines and replace existing LED signs.
"These new displays will be a major upgrade to our current station signs," Metra Executive Director Jim Derwinski said in a statement.
"They will provide train-tracking and schedule updates to waiting customers from our new train tracking system -- the same information that is already available at metratracker.com, metra.com and the Ventra app."
The agency debuted metratracker.com in January. It uses GPS technology installed on railcars and at stations to pinpoint where trains are.
The video monitors will be installed over three years, "with the busiest stations receiving up to 10 signs and the least busy stations receiving one to three," officials said.
"The number of signs are determined by the size of the station coupled with the number of entryways into the station," Chief Information Officer Steven Radecki said at an April 19 board meeting.
Metra does not have a schedule for rollout yet, spokesman Michael Gillis said Monday.
"We may start by installing a couple at every busy station but ultimately will have more at the busiest ones," Gillis said.
Where are the railroad's busiest stations? The top two are on the BNSF Line -- Route 59 is No. 1, followed by Naperville, and third place goes to Ravenswood on the Union Pacific North Line, according to data compiled prior to the COVID-19 pandemic. Elmhurst on the UP West Line was fourth.
Metra currently has 242 stations but is planning to open two more soon.