The transit agency's digital advertising and communication network will eventually include eight 52-inch screens in every rapid transit station, providing a steady flow of real-time travel information to passengers, including a train arrival countdown clock. The screens will also show ads.
"It's all dealing with technology and that's what you have to have in a public transportation system," said Mayor Richard Daley.
"I think it's great. If they're going to give us more information on when the trains are coming back and forth, I can plan my day more efficiently," said CTA rider Stacy Glabach.
The first of the screens will be up in a few months, but the installation of all 1,100 screens will take a year under a contract that calls for the CTA's advertising vendor, Titan, to pay the agency at least $101 million over the next ten years.
"The mayor has challenged us to use this money and immediately put it back into the system and improve customer experience with the CTA, " said CTA President Ron Huberman.
The network also includes an over-ride function that will cut in to provide emergency information. It will be connected to the city's 911 Center.
One hundred buses will also receive digital ads that will change as they roll through different neighborhoods.
In addition, the screens in the train stations could eventually include news, weather, sports and other relevant information, depending on who wants to partner with the CTA.
"On our screen, we can use a lot of information; anything from what's going on in the city to potentially weather, etc. We hope to have a good weather partner, and maybe ABC7 wants to pay for that, right? To have their weather on broadband screens?" Huberman said to ABC7 Chicago's Andy Shaw.
"We don't want to see Andy. No!" joked Mayor Daley.
"Not to worry. I don't do the weather anyway," Shaw said.
The announcement about digital ads came as the CTA was reopening its Southport station on the Brown Line, which has been closed for repairs over the past year.