Who Pooped on the Train? Tips for Riding the CTA

It's getting warm out there.  I'm a big advocate of biking in the city, but if that's not your thing (and you don't have car) then chances are you're riding our beloved public transportation system.  Really though, it's not that bad, and it blows a lot of other city transit systems out of the water!  But lets face it though, trains and buses are crowded, and in the summer things can get pre-tt-y smelly.

CTA Bus: Flickr

CTA Bus: Flickr

I remember my first summer in Chicago.  I wasn't fully committed to biking in the city yet, so after work one day I hopped on the train.  To my excitement, there was a car completely empty - other than one person.  "How nice", I thought, "I have a full car to myself."  Being the naive, new guy in town, the doors opened and I jaunted through them like a badass.  And then I gagged.

I learned a lesson that day.  If you encounter a suspiciously empty train car or bus, enter with caution.  It turns out someone had left their bodily fluids on the train floor.  After a few years in the city, I've learned this isn't as uncommon as one would think.  Here are some tips for riding the CTA.

Board with Caution

If you encounter a suspiciously empty bus or train, board with caution.  If it's rush hour and a single train car is empty, somethings going on there.  Avoid the poop train.  If you do get stuck on a smelly or otherwise uncomfortable train car, exit and board a new car at the next stop.

Download a Transit Tracker App

The only thing worse than waiting 20 minutes in the sweltering heat for a bus is arriving to the stop as one is pulling away.  Download a transit tracker app so you know when they're coming and you can plan your walk to the bus/train stops.  There are a number of options.

Keep your Back Pockets Empty

Like any city, some people here want to steal your shit.  Keep your back pockets empty, these are frequently targeted areas.  If you're carrying a purse (or a murse for that matter), keep that thing zipped up and close to your body.  

Try to Avoid Standing by The Door

For one, you're always in the way.  But more importantly, on the note of people stealing things, you're an easy target by the door.  On that note, also try to avoid being on your cell phone, especially when the doors are open.

Turn Your Damn Headphones Down

If you're rocking your jams and people are giving you dirty looks.  Chances are your DJ skills aren't appreciated at the time.  If others can hear your music, it's too loud.  Be courteous, the train is not your train, we're all sharing here.  

Be smart, safe, and respect others.  We're lucky to have a city we can navigate without owning a car.  Learn the areas and keep your eyes open and you'll be a CTA pro in no time.  Oh, and no yelling on the bus.