Christmas in Chicago: the colorful lights, the warmly lit shops and restaurants… the icy slush of the roads, the biting wind, the horrendous traffic, the expensive parking. What’s an urban shopper to do?
To encourage the use of public transit this holiday season and beyond, the Wicker Park Bucktown Special Service Area (WPB) has installed electronic kiosks that show arrival times of several major CTA bus lines serving the neighborhood.
“The kiosks let shoppers get out of the cold and into a coffee shop, restaurant or store, while still keeping an eye on their bus,” said Jamie Simone, WPB Program Manager.
Kiosks are located in three cafes, four retail stores, and two community offices in the neighborhood, with plans to install three more in coming months. Shop owners are already experiencing an increase in business.
“People come in to check the monitor, and invariably they take a moment to look around,” said Krista Isaacs, owner of Gallery Café on North Avenue.
The electronic mini-billboards began appearing at numerous spots in the Wicker Park/Bucktown area in the fall of 2009. In addition to CTA bus information, the kiosks highlight events and updates on neighborhood happenings. The kiosks are owned, operated and fully funded by WPB and use data transmitted via CTA’s Bus Tracker application programming interface (API).
“CTA had already developed the bus tracker for its own tracking and logistics purposes. We are simply providing that information in a way that is easy to access,” said Simone.
The WPB kiosks provide up-to-the minute updates on incoming buses in both directions for the 56 Milwaukee Avenue, 50 Damen Avenue, 72 North Avenue, 9 Ashland and 49 Western Avenue routes.
The WPB kiosks are the first of their kind in Chicago and the nation. Transit officials from Boston have already traveled to Wicker Park and Bucktown to learn how to integrate a similar system in their community.
“Wicker Park and Bucktown have always been the cutting edge communities of Chicago,” said Simone. “These monitors are just one more example why.”
The kiosks were a result of WPB’s master plan, which was adopted in February 2009. One of the many goals of the master plan is to encourage transit ridership to decrease vehicular congestion and parking pressures in the neighborhood.
The kiosks were installed and are maintained by RedPost, which also manages the online advertising display system.
Bus Tracker Kiosk locations
- Wow & Zen – 1912 N. Damen
- caffe de Luca – 1721 N. Damen
- Gallery Café – 1760 W. North
- Red Hen Bread – 1623 N. Milwaukee
- W Grocer – 2060 W. North
- Myopic Books – 1564 N. Milwaukee
- The Silver Room – 1442 N. Milwaukee
- Office of 1st Ward Alderman Manny Flores – 2058 N. Western
- Wicker Park/Bucktown Chamber of Commerce – 1414 N. Ashland
WPB is the Special Service Area (SSA) for the Wicker Park and Bucktown communities. Unique among Chicago’s SSAs for its size and eclecticism, WPB encompasses a vibrant yet varied, mixed use urban area home to a diverse mix of people and a rare combination of nightlife, culture, family, and art. WPB’s goals are to preserve, encourage, and enhance the qualities of Wicker Park and Bucktown that make the neighborhoods and their corridors distinct; and to balance the needs and desires of all residents, visitors, and businesses in the allocation and expenditure of their tax dollars. More information at wickerparkbucktown.org.