Thursday, November 20, 2008

CTA Culture

CTA Culture: the personality that accompanies a certain bus or train route; undefined by maps and redefined by each season, time of day, bus schedule, etc.

Like the different neighborhoods of the city, each bus or train has a personality. Although I'm not sure it's as cut-and-dry as labeling an area like Old Town, Southport or Wrigleyville.

From my experiences, however, this is my take on the wheels of the windy city.
  • 134/143 - Saturated by the Lincoln Park newbies. Recent graduates, young professionals and students who have just moved to the city. Cell phone usage and roommate chatter early in the morning is abundant. Although it's crowded, standing is acceptable, because you're just thankful the bus stopped to pick you up.
  • 135/146/145 - Older Lakeview/Wrigleyville crowd. Although you get the occasional cell phone, it's usually more discussing inappropriate marital issues. Not as crowded, but have serious maintenance issues. At 8 a.m., nothing is worse than a bus breakdown when you have a window seat and are enjoying the last few pages of the RedEye. Shove it in your bag... you're clearly going to be standing on your orphan bus.
  • 8/36/22 - Usually the newest, most innovative buses with the most inconsistent schedules.
  • 151 - Complete tourist bus in the summer; avoid at all costs.
I'm pretty much a bus babe, but I do make my way to the El every once in awhile. And these are my thoughts...
  • Brown line - Kind of bohemian... for some reason I feel like I'm surrounded by artists every time I go Brown. I appreciate the artsy-type, so this is my top-pick. They are usually quite stylish and, for the most part, adhere to the social norms of train culture.
  • Red line - The opposite of "going green." Dirty is the nicest word that comes to my mind. As the busiest and most connected train, this one takes some beating. No one respects the red line. The red line is in serious need of some TLC (and millions of dollars in renovations and hourly scrub-downs)
  • Pink/Green line - Not sure I've ever been on either of these, but I would imagine they would take me to a suburb of some kind flourishing with strip malls and empty parking lots.
  • Orange - Is about as cheery as the Southwest flight attendants that about to sing to you on the plane in their pleated khaki shorts. For real. People are psyched for their free peanuts and checked luggage.
  • Blue - Although people should be cheery if they are headed out of town, this train is not exclusive to O'Hare. Every time I hear about a crime, it's always on the Blue line; therefor, it scares me. They also have a ton of construction and make you transfer off and get on a shuttle... complicated.

Question: If all of Chicago ran on one train or bus, which one would you choose? And why?


Aline on November 21, 2008 at 1:21 PM said...

Definitely the #156, for the following reasons:

1) It's always there when you need it (even if the first 2 of them are filled to the brim, there seems to be a 3rd eagerly waiting for you)
2)It's always a "double-bus", so it's extra roomy
3)This past week, all of the #156's have been hybrids! Complete with that nice "new bus smell" :)

My Peeps


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