stupid CTA, Pace, Metra maps and the need for NLP

Recently working with my daughter on how to find a way for her to go to and from school I had to investigate the Chicago area mass transit systems. Without going into detail there are three systems with marginal interconnects between them. Each system is different in how it presents information/maps and finding out real-time train/bus tracking. She's 15 years old so we want to make sure that it's easy and trackable for traveling.


If ever a system needed to remove the terrible user interfaces this one does. A natural language interface that would not be that overly complicated is terribly needed. Each of these systems has one way or another to show real-time information but mechanism are very poor and inconsistent. Locating the “systems”  (maps, arrival times etc…) is even more difficult.  There are some apps on the iPhone but they didn’t fare much better.  While “looking cooler” they were inaccurate or did not have real-time data.  In some instances, they had too much information which is hard to decipher when commuting.


At various stages, she only needs to know is a single specific thing  e.g. “when is the next northbound 210 bus coming?"  She doesn't need to see where ALL the 210 buses are on the map, or how to extrapolate their positions to her (forget that that map is wrong). She does not need to see the numerous other buses/trains/uber's etc… Just the 210 northbound.  I recognize when you don't have natural language interface you have to throw everything into the mix and that’s what the apps/websites do.  But it’s painful especially when you need to make decisions on various transit choices based on real schedules.


This needs to change to a language interface method, then anyone can find out when the next bus is coming by asking.

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