Posts Tagged ‘CTA’

By Tricia Lunt, English Faculty.

I love The Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) a whole bunch (I’ve decided to ignore the new Ventra Card system debacle). Chicago is one of the few cities in the United States with a reliable, expedient system of public I-Heart-Public-Transittransportation, a fact for which I am immeasurably grateful.

At its best, public transportation provides convenient, reliable service for city dwellers, and that is essentially my experience. Complaining about the occasional outage stpatstrainwould only serve to prove how reliable CTA service is. Each year, I might expect to endure about ten truly difficult experiences. These encounters are usually on holidays. For instance, St. Patrick’s Day rapidly devolves into a glittery, green nightmare. Particularly busy weekends present unique challenges; the Crosstown Classic means encountering both drunken Cubs and Sox fans on The Red Line. Under special circumstances, the trains can get exceedingly crowded. The blizzard of 2011 was pretty interesting, but much worse on car owners. Thus, 350 days a year, I get where I need to go without hassle.

The efficiency and scope of the CTA is marvelous. I’m always discovering new ways to get to point B. My commute to work is an easy thirty minutes on one train. My neighborhood is on the Blue Line which runs into the city in one direction and straight into O’Hare with service 24 hours! Additionally, my neighborhood provides access to six handy bus lines: Fullerton, Diversey and Armitage for East-West travel; Kimball, California for North-South travel, and the good ol’ Milwaukee bus cuts at a diagonal from my neighborhood along the train lines, for more on-off access. The addition of bus tracker, trip planner, and other transit apps makes getting around easier than ever.

I don’t have to do anything when on the train or bus, so don’t. Typically, I don’t read on the train, still it pleases me to see so many Chicagoans reading. I don’t listen to music. I just sit. I think about my day. On the way to ct-prj-0610-cta-mapwork, I plan my classes in my head. More often, I observe the people around me. I hunt for clues to unlock the secrets of who they are. They reveal themselves to me through gestures and actions. Most get up and offer a pregnant woman a seat, though some do not. Unseasoned tourists perpetually block doorways, infuriating regular riders. Children obey their own instincts, touching everything and asking incessant questions. Young mothers play charming games or outright ignore their children. Strangers bend down to pick up a forgotten umbrella and pass it through the doorway to its rightful owner. The public is a curious entity, and I am happy to study them, briefly, while I head where I want to go.

December is a special time for CTA love, thanks to the seriously fantabulous phenomenon known as the CTA Holiday Train. Knowing such a thing exists is enough to make ctaholidaypeople happy. A ride on The Holiday Train provides enough holiday cheer to get Chicagoans through mid-January. Ordinary train cars are transformed by colored lights, wrapping paper, candy canes, and elves. There are even advertisements for services offered in the North Pole. I haven’t even mentioned that Santa and his reindeer ride on an open-air train car. He shouts, “Merry Christmas” while cruising through the tunnels and gliding under and over the streets of Chicago. The CTA is insanely awesome. Here are the pictures to prove it.

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By Blake Whitmore, RMU Student.

I enjoy looking around at all the different people on the CTA red line train during my morning commute. I look around making up elaborate back stories for the all the individuals. The woman sitting across from me had a small stain on her dress. I imagined it was from a cup of coffee a few months earlier. She went on a date with the most amazing guy that made her laugh a little too hard, causing her to spill a little of her frothy whipped mocha coffee on her dress. The small mark never fully disappeared, but the dress fit her too well and had too many memories to throw it away now. The engagement ring on her finger seemed new, since she continued to play with it and spin it around her finger. She seemed happy and that made me happy.

A man sat next to me. He hadn’t shaved in a couple of days. Dark plump bags rested underneath his eyes. He pulled out a small pair of glasses and put them on and reached for a notepad from his bag. He began writing, but I couldn’t tell what because it was in Russian. I recognized it because my roommate and her family are fluent in Russian. I imagined that he moved here years ago to benefit his three daughters. He wanted them to have a better life than he had, so even though his degrees in Biomedical Technology weren’t recognized in America he and his family packed their bags. He picked up an entry level position at a telemarketing firm to support his family. He worked long hours and got paid barely more than minimum wage. His only escape was the small short stories he wrote in his notepad. He seemed sad and that made me sad.

ImageI did not know these people and they didn’t know me. We pass countless numbers of people every day through our morning commutes and our trips to the grocery store. Only for a brief moment are we a part of that person’s life, and them a part of ours. I look up and down the train car one last time. Most people are buried in their phones and tablets, but I catch the eye of a woman at the end of the car. Her clothes were tattered and covered in filth. Her toes showed through the holes in here sneakers. Her blank stare read like she had no home, no place to wander to after a long day. She doesn’t look happy or sad as a man knocks into her pull cart and doesn’t even acknowledge her existence. I smiled at her. She smiled back and I got off the train to walk to work. I know nothing about her, but I will never forget her.

Walking up the stairs to work I wonder if she will remember me. Will the newly engaged girl with the cute stained dress remember me? Will the Russian writer even know I was there? I looked down at what I was wearing: a summer dress and flip flops. What did that give away? Do they guess at my back story? Every weekday morning my alarm clock goes off at exactly 7:00 AM. I get up and begin the daily routine. That word routine makes me cringe. The mundane routine of a 9 to 5 job has finally set in, but I still look forward to my commute. I leave my apartment at exactly 8:15 AM with a travel mug of hot tea and a good book in hand. I run up the stairs of the CTA platform only to barely miss the train heading south. I place my headphones in my ears and press play on whatever Spotify playlist I have a hankering for that morning. I crack open my book and read a few chapters before the train gets really crowded, but no one notices. I am just another passer-by.

By Heather Alexander, RMU Student

Has all respect for personal space gone out the window or is it just me?  Unfortunately, I am forced to ride public transportation to and from work and school on a daily basis because paying for parking downtown is just about as expensive as paying back a student loan.  My CTA experiences vary from day to day.  Some days are loud, like when the girl who continuously pops her gum in mid-conversation on the telephone decides to sit next to me and I feel like she has her phone connected to an amplifier.  And some days are quiet, like when the tired old lady with all the grocery bags shifts half of her weight onto my seat.  Whether it is a noisy or quiet day, my space is still being intruded upon.

CT  MET-GETTING-AROUND-NEW 0910 EM

Anyone who rides the CTA knows that some of these things are to be expected, but how much heavier or taller (I’m only 5’2”) do I have to be in order for someone to say excuse me when they bump me upon boarding or exiting the bus?  And is it really going to harm your conversation that much to continue in the privacy of your own home?  I’m pretty sure your boyfriend/girlfriend cheating on you is irrelevant to the well-being of the majority of riders on the bus.  I know during rush hour, buses can’t help but be crowded, but the line has to be drawn somewhere.  Even though the riders on CTA have to deal with being uncomfortable from time to time, a little courtesy goes a long way.  Now, would I be wrong if I told the amplifier girl that she needed to lower her voice or if I moved away from the straddling old woman?  No, I just need more personal space within a public space, and as a paying rider I should deserve at least that much, in addition to safely arriving to my destination.

To avoid invasion of personal space on the CTA, I choose to just wait out the rush hour period.  I’ll occupy myself doing meaningless things like window shopping or spending money I don’t have on food and drinks just so I won’t have to be bothered with all the hustle and bustle of annoying conversations and shopping bags.  So what if I get home an hour later and have to stay up the rest of the night working on homework for the next day? At least I’ll still have my dignity.