Case Studies


Delivering realtime transport updates for 3 million people each day in North Illinois

Case Study

About Metra

Metra is the largest and busiest commuter rail system outside of New York. It provides a safe, reliable and efficient service that is leading the industry in achieving continuous improvement, innovation and transparency.

Key Technologies used

  • Pub/Sub messaging

  • Connection state recovery

  • Guaranteed delivery & ordering

  • Multiplexed WebSockets

Metra Use Case

With the network transporting 300,000 passengers each day, realtime notifications are published on Metra’s website to keep the public up-to-date on the timetable, trains’ status and station conditions, from weather warnings to from weather warnings to parking information.

Metra Challenges

Reliable realtime functionality at scale

To provide up-to-the-second updates to its 300,000 daily users, Metra required reliable realtime functionality at scale.

Metra’s website receives 3.5 million daily visits supporting 2,000 devices concurrently online, subscribing to constant updates. Each month, this amounts to over 4.5 billion messages delivered out to millions of end-users. Metra’s previous Pub/Sub provider struggled to scale to meet this load, particularly during peak periods. With realtime updates a mission-critical function when it comes to Metra to serve its commuters, so Metra began looking for a new solution.

The Ably Solution

Premium 24/7 support and unmatched scalability

After assessing alternative vendors, Metra discovered that Ably was not only able to scale effortlessly to meet demand but was a more cost effective solution with improved Quality of Service with message delivery and integrity guarantees. However, what really set Ably apart was the “excellent” customer service they provided to Metra, which allowed commuters to rely on the website’s updates with greater confidence. With transport providers increasingly choosing to expose realtime transport data to kick-start innovations around their product, Ably were the logical choice in when it came to future-proof Metra’s offering.

Milestones at-a-glance

52 billion
Messages delivered by Ably
Daily passengers
3 million
Website views per day
Railway stations
Railway lines
Busiest rail line in the USA
With approximately 290,000 passenger trips a day it is vital that Metra deliver real-time updates for train arrival information. With the tools made available by Ably, Metra is able to deliver real-time data to customers quickly, dependably, and cost effectively, which prove beneficial for both Metra and Metra passengers.

Cherie Kizer

CIO / Metra

Metra relies on Ably for

  • Using channels devices can broadcast out realtime updates to any number of subscribers.

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  • When devices lose their connection, they don't need to lose message continuity and data integrity.

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  • Our quality of service and reliable message ordering guarantee lets you focus on building your service.

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  • Our client library SDKs primarily use an efficient multiplexed Websocket connection to subscribe and publish messages on any number of channels.

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  • We are there whenever we are needed, providing direct access to 2nd line engineers 365 days a year.

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