Best pick-up line ever? There's an app for that.
If you're tired of waiting for the CTA to pick you up, two free new apps are there for you.
Uber, which launched in Chicago last week, allows you to order a car service via text message. TravAlarm, which alerts you if your train is delayed, was released in Chicago a few weeks ago.
Going Public has the buzz on these tools—two of a few transportation apps designed to reduce commuter headaches. Full disclosure: RedEye also has a free train tracker app.
Platform: Use the app, available for iPhone and Android users, if you don't want to wait on the platform for a delayed train.
Down-low: Londoner Arkajit Bala, 29, launched a version of TravAlarm in Britain earlier this year because he was tired of waiting for the Tube.
"His mornings never started when he needed them to," TravAlarm spokeswoman Kate Miller said. "[With the app] he could make himself aware of what's going on before he even left the house."
The Chicago version, which has been downloaded about 200 times, allows riders to set an alarm that will buzz if there are delays on their three favorite CTA lines, Miller said.
For example, if a rider typically wakes up at 7:30 a.m. to catch an 8:30 a.m. Blue Line train an alarm will sound off at 7 a.m. if there's a Blue Line delay.
What sets this program apart from train tracking apps is "the fact that it's an automated alarm," Miller said.
Platform: Use the service, available for all phones that have texting capability, if it's raining and you don't want to wait for a bus or a taxi or you're in an area with little or no cab or CTA coverage.
Down-low: Uber got its first test this past weekend, which saw storms and a flood of Bears fans coming out of Soldier Field.
"We saw a spike in requests after the Bears game," said Chicago operations manager Allen Penn, 27. More than a dozen of Uber's more than 1,000 customers requested a car through Uber after the game, Penn said.
The app typically targets the nightlife set who want to cruise around town in a vehicle more stylish than a bus or cab. Uber allows users to text their location and get a sedan or SUV sent to that address immediately.
But time is money. The base fare is $7, and each mile costs $3.50. The minimum fare is $15. Gratuity is included, and the trip is paid for through the rider's phone.
Penn estimates the ride costs nearly twice as much as what a similar ride in a taxi would cost.
"It's a different level of quality and different experience ... when you want to have that nice night out," Penn said.
TALK TO US
Mayor Emanuel announced last week that 100 CTA stations will see a deep cleanse. Which station needs this cleanup the most? Send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Please include your full name, age and neighborhood.
My pledge to ride every CTA bus line continues. I rode the No. X28 Stony Island Express last week and boiled my review down to a tweet.
@tracyswartz 72 mins from Union Station to Olive-Harvey College. Fills quickly at Union Station. Rush hour sked. No stops 11th to 47th Streets. Snoozer.
126 routes down, 13 to go!
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