It’s About Time: How SMS Solutions Make Sense of Commuting

Relying on mass text messaging to update passengers of some of America’s busiest transit systems seems insufficient, but that’s exactly what’s going on in roads, subways, and railways right now.

Officials are finding that opt-in group SMS provides a simple solution to the problem of dissatisfied passengers falling victim to delays, cancelations, and other everyday headaches that stand in the way of a smooth commute. An easy to remember keyword and similarly simple shortcode are all these passengers need to get important information where they are most likely to see it: on their cell phones.

The Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) has set up separate SMS systems for both their trains and busses to inform people of upcoming arrival times. Users can text “ctabus” or “ctatrain” along with a shortcode corresponding to a bus or train stop to 41411. They will receive an automated message informing them of estimated arrival times, updated to account for any deviations from the normal schedule. Instructions and reminders posted all over the city on how to use this text message alert system shows  CTA’s dedication to making SMS a customer service fixture.


“Based on surveys conducted by the CTA, approximately 70 percent of bus customers have some type of cell phone,” then-CTA President Richard Rodriguez said during the 2009 rollout of the service. With that number increasing every year, Chicago is counting on text messaging to be an even more important tool to reduce complaints and improve satisfaction.

Similar SMS notification systems for transit are in place in markets such as Jacksonville, Dallas, and San Francisco. With millions of riders boarding trains and busses every day, a lightweight yet automatic tool may prove surprisingly effective in orchestrating the traffic.



Interested in providing real-time bus info via SMS? Contact TextMarks at 800-696-1393 or email

Eric Duncan

Eric Duncan writes about Marketing for TextMarks--The industry leading SMS Marking & Communications platform.

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