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Readers share their crazy commuting tales

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So i was on the brown line going north and around the Southport station - this guy in front of me who was wearing a yellow "chicago events manager" windbreaker with a bears hoodie underneath approaches a young young guy drinking a 40. He was the the young guy that it is illegal to drink on the train. Then the guy with the windbreaker says that is he a cop, but is off duty. He "called" his police partner to drive up to the next station to give the young guy a ticket. Then the guy says, "i'm off duty, i don't want to deal with any paperwork - just trash the 40 at the next stop. The young guy did so and then called one his buddies and asked him if it is illegal to drink on the train - his buddy said "yes". They both got off at Montrose.

What is an off duty officer doing on a train? and why didn't he have a badge at all?

He wasn't a cop

Well, this one isn't really crazy, I just thought it was kinda cool. Earlier this week on my ride home, two young guys with magic markers were busily drawing on white cardboard. They ended up with three items, which they then put up on the sign holders before exiting the train: One a drawing of Frankenstein's monster, another one of Lincoln saying "Vote 11/4", and a third that was a weird-looking little head. I told them it looked like a Scrubbing Bubble. The guy who drew that one was highly amused by my suggestion and said that's how he would refer to the little character from now on. They were either art students or pretty good amateur cartoonists.

This morning was the first time in a long time I've been on a train at rush hour. I was really impressed. First of all, sitting on a SB Brown Line waiting just north of Belmont, the motorman got on the intercom and told us how many trains we were waiting on and gave a good estimate of how long it would take to get a signal. Then, waiting to transfer at Fullerton to a Red Line train, another Brown Line motorman made an announcement for those of us on the platform that if we could, we should probably get on his train and there was a signal malfunction effecting Red Line trains and we might be stuck there for a while. So I rode in a Max Capacity car from there to Chicago. There are more seats on those cars than I thought. I didn't get one, but those of us standing weren't jammed in like sardines and there's lots of things to hold onto. This trip was nothing like the L rides I remember from several years ago. Way to go, CTA!

Has anyone noticed that they have already put the new signs up at the Paulina station? I don't remember them doing that at Southport until very close to the reopening. Did the signs just get delivered earlier than expected, or is there something up?

Would it be crazy to hope that the station will be reopening early? I probably just answered my own question, but I was wondering if anyone knew anything about this?

This isn't a crazy commuting tale, more of a question that I wasn't sure where to post. I had put it on a thread about the maximum capacity brown line trains, but I think that thread was too old for people to read. I'm posting it here because I am thinking about writing a letter, but if there's a legitimate reason for the situation, then I don't want to waste their time. A second comment that I have, though, is in regards to the Western el stop and the revolving gate that has been locked for the past couple of months (is that ever going to be fixed?)!

Original post:
I know this is an old post, but I have some questions about it. I ride the Brown line Monday through Friday, ahead of rush hour. In the mornings I get on at Western between 6:00 and 6:30 (in theory, sometimes it's more like 6:45 to 7:00). Lately (the last couple of weeks), if I'm running late and get on around 6:45, I end up on a train with the removed seats. It seams to me that if a train is leaving Western at 6:45, it won't be back to Kimball and ready to go out again until at least 8:30, which means it's not going out during the peak of rush hour. Coming home I usually catch an el from State/Lake around 3:45, and for the past couple of weeks the same thing has been happening on my return trip. It seems like that train wouldn't be back down town until about 6:00 (which doesn't seem as odd in the evening, as more people leave work at different times than go in at different times).

In the afternoon I don't mind standing (not that I generally end up needing to) because I've been sitting all day. I have to admit, though, that getting on so early in the morning, it is nice to have a seat.

It just seems to me (as someone who used to take the train right at the peak of rush hour in both directions) that it would make more sense for all of the trains with removed seats to head out during the 7:30-9:00 period.

I was thinking about sending the CTA a letter expressing this (since it is in the trial phase), but if it's just my confusion on the intent of when the cars go out I don't want to waste their time.

Posted by: Mandy | October 29, 2008 at 08:27 AM

I am writing aboutan incident involving Driver (#36761) of the route #146.

On November 19, 2008, at 8:35pm, I ran towards a #146 bus on the corner of State and Jackson. Driver #36761 had already closed the door, so I knocked on the door. The driver looked at me, rolled her eyes, and started to say something as she opened the door. I had my Ipod on, so I could not hear her. I took my earphones off to listen to what she was saying. (The following dialogue transpired.)

Driver: Don't you think I saw you crossing the street? Why did you have to knock on the door?
Mark: Because I didn't think you saw me, and the door was closed. I was standing there for thirty seconds, so I knocked on the door.
Driver: Well, I did see you cross in front of me, and you weren't standing there for thirty seconds. The door takes ten seconds to open, so you didn't have to knock on the door.
Mark: You know what, whether ten seconds or thirty seconds, there is no need to roll your eyes, be rude, and give me attitude. You are a person of customer service. Your behavior is very unprofessional.
Driver: I can say what I want.
Mark: Yes, you can, but you are a person who works in customer service. This is not how you treat customers.
Driver: You're not my customer! You're CTA's customer!
Mark: Ma'am, you work for CTA. Therefore, I am your customer.

I began to head to a seat. When I heard:

Driver: It's so stupid to knock on the door when he knows I saw him.
Mark: Did you just call me stupid?
Driver: I didn't call you stupid. If you think I did, then that's your problem.
Mark: You know, just because you're a miserable person, doesn't mean you have to take it out on other people.
Driver: What an idiotic thing to say.
Mark: Don't call me an idiot.
Driver: Now you're saying I called you an idiot. Oh Lord!
Mark: Oh Lord indeed.
Driver: How about you just go sit down?
Mark: How about you just go drive the bus?
Driver: I'll over the bus, and we'll see what happens.
Mark: You can exercise your bus driver power, but if you pull this bus over, I'm sure you'll make a lot of friends (referring to the full bus of passengers).

I sat down near the front, and I heard the driver something.

Driver: ...sitting in the front...
Mark: Did you say something, ma''am?
Driver: I wasn't talking to you!

I grabbed a sheet of paper and a pencil to write down her driver number.

Mark: What's your driver number, ma'am?
Driver: You already saw it.
Mark: No, I didn't. (I wrote down her driver number.)

I had arrived at my stop, and when I walked by the driver to exit. She sighed in an audible "hmmp."

Mark: Did you say something, ma'am?
Driver: Are you still bothering me?

She closed the door and drove away.


This was the most unfortunate experience I have ever experienced with a CTA employee. While I may have been defensive in my actions, the driver's (#36761) initial behavior was out of line. She was belligerent, abusive, and unprofessional. She claimed not to be a CTA employee, which is questionable on her commitment to the organization.

I highly encourage for Driver #36761 to be dismissed for her behavior because verbal abuse, rudeness, and unprofessional behavior is not what a paying customer should encounter on the CTA.

Actually, Mark, it sounds like you kind of picked a fight with the bus driver. No, she did not need to say anything to you about knocking on the door, but really, you could have just let it go. She did not call you stupid or idiotic, she said what you did and said were stupid and idiotic (there's a big difference). Maybe she didn't handle things in the most professional manner, but I would say it wasn't exactly your proudest moment, either. Take a little responsibility for your own behavior, as well.

Besides, Mark, if you really want to complain to the CTA, this isn't a CTA run site.


I just wanted to blow off a little steam before my children get home from school and I have to discuss this with them.

I have always taught my children to be respectful to adults (no matter how wrong you think they are), anything worth doing is wroth doing right, arguing & fighting never solves any problems and always be kind to others (look out for your fellow man.) For the first time I am wondering if I have set them up for disapointment, failure and maybe even harm.

This morning, as I do on most mornigs, I droped my 14 and 16 year old at the bus stop to make sure they make it to school on time and without incident. My neighborhood is not bad, but there are still problems in the surrounding areas.

About ten minutes later my 14 year old daughter calls me to say my son had been put off the bus. My first questions to her were "What did he do? Was he causing trouble? Was he disrespectful any any way?" I know that you train your children at home, but sometimes when they are not in your eyesight they might not behave the way they are taught. I also know that my daughter will take every opportunity to tell on her brother if he did something wrong...it's a sibling thing.

Her reply was extreamly disturbing. She said a few blocks down from where I dropped them off a boy that they did not know got on the bus and found that he did not have any more money on his bus card. My son heard what was going on and offered his bus card to the boy for the ride. The bus driver told my son to take his card back because he could not let the boy use his card. My son replied it was OK he could use one of his rides. The bus driver told him again to take his card back from the boy, he could not use it? My son asked why can't he use it if there is money on it? The bus driver told him that since he had a problem with it he and the boy had to get off the bus. Out of respect, without argument he left the bus and he and his sister called me. I thank God he is the kind of mild mannered kid he is because that entire situation could have turned into something else if my son had defended the fact that he had paid his fare and had a right to ride to his destination.

I have several problems with this:

1. He put my son off the bus after he paid his fare which made him have to pay another fare just to get to school. I am on a disability income. I have no money to give away because of ignorance. If my son wanted to share with someone to help them that is one thing, God will bless us for his sacrafice, but to have the bus drive turn his good deed into a bad situation that cost me is another story.

2. He put my 16 year of boy off the bus in an unfamiluare neighborhood without his sister leaving him alone in the streets where anything could have happened to him. I personally made sure that he got on the bus safely and expected him to get of at the school with his sister...safely! We believe in the buddy system, they watch out for each other. What this bus drive did distroyed my security system for my children with no regard for his wellbeing.

3. He left my 14 year old daughter on the bus alone to get to school. I don't even have to go into the safty issues there.

4. It was none of his business wether or not my son used my money to help somone else as long as he was not doing anything to harm the other passengers on the bus.

I thought, in the man's defense, that there might have been some rule that prohibited the sharing of the card, but after talking to my brother who is a CTA bus driver I found out people share passes all the time. If my son wanted to help someone who he saw was in need he should have been able to.

Those are just a few of the things that has me steaming. People are always critisizing the youth, and the parents of the youth for not being responsible or doing the right thing, but look at what happened when he tried to help someone in need. I know that it was not his responsibility, but I feel it was the right thing to do. If one of my children got on a bus and realized they did not have fare left on their cards, I would have appreciated someone helping them. They watch me give to strangers all the time; I am trying to insteel love and kindness in a world that is full of hate, selfishness and coldness but am I setting them up for these types of reaponses from people.

I know there might be people out there that is saying "Why is she babying a 14 & 16 year old kid?" Because I love my children and I'm not willing to take the chance with their lives. This is a dangerous and unpredicable world. My 19 year old sister was kill 1 1/2 blocks from my home when I was younger. Those memories still haunt me. I could not get out of the house fast enough to pick up my son this morning to take him to school.

I don't know what I am going to say to him when he gets home if he asks me how he should have handeled this, as he often does. I want to give him an answer that dosen't mirror my true feelings because I don't want him to respond in a simular situation with my overwhelming anger. I am an extremely mild mannered person, but I am finding myself in very unfamiluar territory...thus the reason for this blog. I just want to know, CTA, where is the LOVE?

Ahaaaa. Deep breath...I think I feel a little better now, thanks for listening.


I don't have kids yet, but your story really got me steamed. Your son certainly did the right thing, and it's awful that the bus driver punished him for it. I've helped people from time to time when their card doesn't work, and since it's my money, I can do with it as I please.

Not that it would probably do any good, but have you sent a complaint to the CTA?

Thank you for your comment. Yes, I did send my complaint to the CTA. My daughter got his badge number and I have been assured that a complaint would be filed.

I used to think that they didn't want you to help people with your card because that person's ride would be paid at the 25 cent transfer rate instead of the full fare. Am I right on this or is there a way for them to charge the card at full fare?

But I've also had it happen where I tried to give some change to someone in need of it to ride and the driver wouldn't let me do it, on pain of throwing me off the bus! This was maybe 8 - 10 years ago, but I'll never forget it. They seem more civil these days, in fear of being reported for incivility and losing their jobs, I guess.

Does your son have a student discount card? That's the only (somewhat)reasonable reason I can think of for the driver not letting your son help someone out.

"She did not call you stupid or idiotic, she said what you did and said were stupid and idiotic (there's a big difference). Maybe she didn't handle things in the most professional manner, but I would say it wasn't exactly your proudest moment, either."

Sorry Mandy but I have to take Mark's side on this one. Drivers have become more and more rude and confrontational and while two wrongs don't make a right, as someone who has borne the brunt of obnoxious comments from CTA employees on more than one occasion, I feel we have the right to call them out on it. Whether or not I called a customer an idiot or said to him, "What an idiotic thing to say", I don't think my boss would approve in either case. That this driver also said, "You're not my customer! You're CTA's customer!" definitely demanded a response. I have had more than my own share of belligerant, confrontation drivers myself and am sick and tired of their piss-poor attitudes.

Now they have those new plastic "sneeze guards" in the buses to protect themselves, I'm noticed a upswing in rude comments and confrontations with the public...seems like once you think you have some protection....


OMG Kevin, it's ironic that you mention the new plastic partitions and rude comments (could there be a correlation?) because during my 1 hour commute home in tonight's snowstorm, I watched my #151 driver bark at customers wanting to board the already-packed bus at least five times (he told some of us that we had to get off because we were blocking his mirror - of course, as per usual, folks in the rear refused to move back). I managed to capture some video of him on my cell phone saying, "These f*cking people are sh*theads!!" to some guy who was leaning against the plastic partition, and complaining that after 11 years driving a bus, he's sick of his job and the riders. All within earshot of about 8 of us who were crammed next to him. No one loves their job 100% of the time but do we really need to hear our driver make disparaging comments about customers and how much he hates what he's doing? And would he have been so vocal if he wasn't behind a piece of lucite? Feh!

I was sexually harassed this morning on the 135. I was standing near the front of the bus, against the driver's side wheel well, when we pulled up to Wacker and Columbus and a large number of people exited. As usual, I squeezed up against the well to make room for the exiting passengers, so I didn't realize at first what was happening -- I thought what I was feeling was just the pressure of people passing by. Suddenly I realized that this creep behind me was grinding his genital area against me. More on reflex than anything else, I wheeled around and yelled at him to get away, although sadly I didn't have the presence of mind to take a picture of him. After I yelled, a blonde lady paused as she was exiting the bus to say "Just so you know, he did it to me, too."

1) I seem to remember reading a comment about this guy on this site before -- he's Latino, about 5', possibly with a mustache, wearing a red, white and green jacket, and reeks of booze. This happened to me once before, also on the 135, and with the same guy, but I didn't know enough to do what I did this time: I called the police and filed a report.

2) To all the people who gave me weird/dirty looks when I yelled at him: Sorry to disturb your commute, but I'm not the crazy one. Should your mother/sister/daughter find herself in a similar situation, I hope her fellow passengers are a little kinder. Because the alternative is to remain silent, and just stand there and take the abuse. Speaking of which,

3) To the blonde lady: Your tone suggested that you may have been the person leaning heavily on my arm this morning on the way down Lake Shore, and that you were doing so to get away from the creep. First, I'm sorry I didn't move. I couldn't reach the next pole over and I'm so used to being squashed in the mornings that it seemed less like a signal and more par for the course. Believe me when I say if I'd known he was there I would have made more space for you even if it meant some shoving and pissing off people on my other side. Next time, even if you don't want to confront the guy, tap me on the shoulder. SAY something. I will do my best to help you. I will move. I will take his picture. Nobody should have to put up with this sh*t. Which brings me to

4) Ladies, if he bothers you, call him out, humiliate him before the rest of the bus/train car, and call the police! Note the time, date, run # and bus # and call the CTA too. Reporting is the only way to stop him. This is predatory sexual behavior, and it is NOT your fault, and the only way to protect yourself and your fellow passengers is to get the word out, to us and to the authorities.

I wrote to the CTA today asking if it would be possible to re-establish the east bound bus stop at Chicago and Franklin that was removed while the Chicago and Franklin stop (Brown/Purple) was rehabed.

The answer:
Thank you for your complaint, but the configuration of the street makes it unsafe to install a stop there for the eastbound buses. The bus stops currently are at Orleans and at Wells. We are surveying the area to see if we can get one of the stops closer to the station entrance, but we cannot restore the old stop at Franklin for safety reasons.


Who was the doofus who designed a station that made it unsafe as a bus stop? Who was the idiot at the CTA who approved those plans?

As the train operator on the Brown Line this morning remarked about the delays "What can you expect? This is the CTA."

I have been riding the CTA all my 50+ year life having grown up in Chicago and now use it as a suburban commuter. I realize the buses could even be more crowded if the CTA ever got around to being more user friendly and helped build more consistent rider ship. So maybe my ideas could make riding the buses worse with more riders but here are my suggestions.

Problem that initiated my suggestions: The only CTA Transit Card vending machine at the Millennium Station serving the Southshore Electric Line is out of order. It will not accept any cash to increase the value of my current card or vend a new card. I walked about a 1/2 mile from my office to refill my CTA transit card because the Ogilvie station entrance where the #120, 122 and other buses stop does not have any CTA fare transit card vending machines. Note the Metra employees sitting at the ticket windows ten feet from this inoperable machine had no interest in the CTA or their machines. Maybe adding a second machine at this busy location would be a good idea?

IDEA #1: Post signs at the vending machines advising users where the nearest machine is and list a phone number to contact if the machine is out of order. NOTE I advised the Metra employees sitting at the ticket windows just ten feet from the machine of the problem but they had no interest or care about anything to do with the CTA or their machines.

IDEA #2 Why there is not a CTA fare card vending machine at the Ogilvie Metra station entrance/exit just south of Randolph St where people enter and exit by thousands each day is always surprising to me.

IDEA#3 Post the current locations of the vending machines for the transit cards on the CTA website. If they are listed I could not find it anywhere.

IDEA #4 Now this idea would require some level of cooperation between the CTA, PACE and Metra but here goes… Why don’t the Metra trains post any info. about CTA or PACE connections? And why don’t the CTA buses offer any info about Metra transit options? It is like they operate in their own worlds and do not recognize the other. I have not been in a PACE bus for years so I am not certain what info they offer about METRA or the CTA.

Seeing these gaps in any cooperation between these common transit groups it makes me wonder what the RTA “umbrella organization” does other than serve as another place to stash away patronage workers aka politically sponsored employees. I am cynical but as a regular everyday rider it makes me wonder what the RTA really does and why these groups are not working together to serve the riders and self promote their services at the same time.

Don Kirchenberg, Qualogistics@aol.com

Is anyone having problems with their 30-day pass fare card? Mine stopped working after the year roll-over - it gets an "error 44" at all turnstiles. It's supposed to last until about January 26. I suspect this is some sort of software issue possibly related to the fare increase, but then there would be other people running into this. Anyone had to deal with this? What did you end up doing? Thanks

Total CTA weirdness last night and this morning. Last night a guy got on the bus with a granny cart that was empty. He didn't fold it up, he just let it roll around bashing into people. When someone would object, he'd say "Not to worry, sister" no matter the gender of the person being bashed by the cart. This morning I got to sit next to a rather large gentleman who kept going on and on about being your own man and actions speaking louder than words and some bits about God. He wasn't talking into a phone either, I checked.

I told a co-worker about all of this when I got here this morning and she said "People who drive just don't know what they're missing."

After telling me on December 19th that it would be unsafe to re-establish a bus stop on the south side of Chicago Avenue at Franklin, there is a stop there today! (Under the staircase rather than at the foot of the staircase as it was before the renovation.) Thank you CTA!

I have a sad story to share.

This morning at about 8:40 am, a very crowded southbound Red Line train, number 2716, pulled into Chicago station. A broad-shouldered man went to exit but was promptly body-checked by an equally-hefty man who decided to shove into the car instead of waiting to let people off first.

For a few seconds they scuffled right in front of me as each man, aware of what the other was doing, engaged in a chest-pushing match. "Let me off!" said the first man. "Just let him off!" yelled a woman. "Move!" yelled another. The shoving man, not about to back down from the conflict he had created shouted "You just try and GET off!"

Eventually something gave way and the exiter shoved passed and got off the car.

The shover was left standing there, packed into the crowd, under the stares of 40 baffled commuters. No one said a thing. Until he started to rant.

"You got to get off faster! Hurry up! Listen ya'll. I'm big and I'm black. I'm what all ya'll white people are afraid of. I'm what you go to bed screaming about at night." A few chortles could be heard about the car, and some "yeah rights." He went on, temper rising.

"So go ahead and call the police, call 911. That's why you got it on speed dial. Listen, I'm training you. I'm training you to be tough. Them streets are a battle and I'm training ya'll to be soldiers. Now I know I ain't slim and I even put on some weight, but ya'll should be thanking me. How's Chicago supposed to be gansgta' if it's all soft?"

All this time the man was towering right over me, looking large in an over-puffed brown jacket emblazoned with a gold ensignia to match the bright yellow pick in his equally puffed hair.

I almost said something back. Something about how he was wrong. Something about how ensuring Chicago's gangsta rep was not high on my list of civic priorities. But the instinct of a five-foot female spoke first. It said that opening my mouth under these circumstances was not in my best interest. I listened and I'm glad.

Instead I made a dash for it. We hit the platform at Grand Ave. and I was out the doors. Tunnel empty, I found a woman in the turnstile booth who took down the details. Reluctantly at first, and then gladly, as if seeing an opportunity to easily right some wrong. "Someone's harassing people? And what ethnicity is he?" I mumbled. African-American. She radioed the conductor as I headed back down to catch the next one.

"One of the Ravenswood line conductors livened his announcements with a little stage patter. I paraphrase: "Good afternoon ladies and gentlemen, and welcome to the Love Train. We are currently cruising at an altitude of 30 feet and at speeds between 15 and 25 miles per hour..."

Has anyone else ever seen someone on a bus save a seat for someone that may be boarding at another stop? I did last night. It was on a NB 144. I was sitting a few rows back, but a woman boarded, politely asked another woman to move her very small shopping bag from a seat so that Woman #1 could sit down. Shopping Bag Woman said, no, she was saving that seat for a friend who would be boarding at XX stop. W#1 totally fell for this. Anyway, once we got past the stop the friend was supposedly waiting at, she moved the bag and let the woman sit down.

On the Pink Line between 8:00 a.m. and 8:40 a.m. this morning, in the West Loop, my boyfriend and I were accosted by a middle-aged, weave-haired black woman preacher who stood, for the entire ride, screaming her sermon to a full train car. One heavy-set gentlemen asked the woman to please be quiet. She ignore him. I shouted, "Please shut up!" which she also ignored. She continued to yell and dance and waive her hands (crazy, insane, lunatic) and talk about God. All the other passengers were silent.

Please. Jesus had FOLLOWERS, not PRISONERS. Jesus was NOT RUDE. Jesus went to hilltops and, if people wanted to hear his sermons, they followed him. So, silent passengers, if you were being quiet out of respect for this crazy woman's religious beliefs, read your own Bibles and you will discover that she is not of God but probably of the Devil. She is not like Jesus, so she is like the anti-Christ. You do not have to respect the anti-Christ people on the buses or trains. You may tell them to "get thee behind me" and STFU. Thank you.

Many thanks to the Good Samaritan at the Green Line's 35th-Bronzeville-IIT Station early this morning who found the red spiral notebook I had left behind. This fellow passenger or CTA staffer took the notebook to the station attendant, who kindly put it on display inside the window to the booth -- which let me spot the notebook when I arrived back at the station looking for it with hope against hope. What a miracle! My notebook is found, and my day/week/life is saved. Many thanks to Chicagoans (including CTA passengers and staff) who look out for each other!

Many thanks to the Good Samaritan at the Green Line's 35th-Bronzeville-IIT Station early this morning who found the red spiral notebook I had left behind. This fellow passenger or CTA staffer took the notebook to the station attendant, who kindly put it on display inside the window to the booth -- which let me spot the notebook when I arrived back at the station looking for it with hope against hope. What a miracle! My notebook is found, and my day/week/life is saved. Many thanks to Chicagoans (including CTA passengers and staff) who look out for each other!

There was a brokendown NABI pulled over eastbound on Foster at Lincoln this morning. It obviously had just left North Park for its daily run of shuttling commuters down Lake Shore Drive. The front display panel above the windshield read "GOING YOUR WAY." Not so much. The irony was overwhelming.

A few weeks ago I had a super-wretch-inducing experience. The train was really crowded and this small, bundled woman comes on. I notice that she is all wrapped up and is squirming around, scratching her hair. First I thought she had psoriasis because of the stuff in her hair, but on the second look I realized that her hair was LOADED with LICE. I have never seen anything like that in my life. They were crawling allover her hair and shoulders. I mean I did not know that lice can be seen like that. I almost threw up.

I feel bad for the woman, it must be agony for her, but in the same time the self-preserving kicks in and I had to move away from her. This other woman saw it too and we looked at each other in terror. So, yeah, look-out, stuff gets medival on the brown line!

After reading some of the previous reports on this thread, I realize that some readers may take this differently. Yes, it is disgusting that this happened. On the other hand, what idiot would do that?! As grossed out as I was, I can't help but laugh out loud now...I am determined to operate on a "laugh and move along" mindset. Read for a giggle.

7:16a 02/24/09
Sheridan/Rosemont stop

I'm the first to get on the 136 bus, as usual, and I sit in my usual seat - front row after the rear exit on the passenger side. As I settle into my spot I discovered that my mango snack has oozed all over the inards of my purse, so I'm cleaning that up with tissues. As I do this, I notice a big 5x7 art-deco postcard is stuck in the trim along the wall. I grab at it and get it out.... only then do I realize that it's not an art gallery postcard, but a blurry printed photo of some creeper's long john. Horrified, I throw it on the floor, hoping that it landed face down under the seat.

And then I realize my hands are sticky (probably from the mango, but still).


The whole rest of the ride I was terrified it would get stuck to my shoe and everyone on the 136 would think I have shady friends.

Not a crazy story, but does anyone know why the Brown/Purple lines southbound from Sedgwick (and sometimes Armitage) to Chicago have been so slow in the mornings after 9am? I see lots of yellow vests on the tracks, so I assume there is work going on, but I can't find anything specific about this online.

Last night around 7:15 I got on a WB #66 at around Illinois and McClurg. About 10 minutes into the ride a bum got on with his window washing bucket, full of wipers and handles and everything. I felt a moments' pity for him (it was pouring rain) before he looked down the length of the bus and loudly stated, "Man...I HATE WHITE PEOPLE! All'a y'all! Hate! You! Ain't nothin good ever come from ya. I'm a slave!" and so on and so forth. I was sitting behind the driver in the little 1-seat before the double disabled seating bench, so I was closest to this man, who went on and on and on about how white people are the devil, the scourge of the earth, how they all should be burned at the stake and then fed to dogs. The guy actually said all this. I was mildly annoyed, but more uneasy. This guy seemed more dangerous than the average rhetoric-spewing bum I usually encounter on the bus. I glanced around at the driver, who was looking straight ahead, ignoring this guy.

Prolonging this show, for some reason our route was altered and it took FOREVER to get to the Chicago Blue Line stop. The whole time this man ranted and raved about how awful white people are. Everybody on the bus - and it was a 'mixed' bus - stayed quiet and stared out the windows. I couldn't help but wonder if the circumstances were a bit different, if all hell wouldn't have broken loose, and a cop would have been there to escort this guy off the bus. It's incendiary, provocative and wrong, no matter who says it, about whatever race.

More important to me at the moment was the increasing attention that was being paid to me as the closest assumingly non-threatening white person to this guy. He got close to me and said he was going to kick my ass. I glared at him and mentally noted my proximity to one of his window-washing pole handles, just in case. He went off on another hateful tangent and then just before the Chicago Blue Line stop, he told me he was going to "set [my] ass on fire." I got off with some other people; he did also, but seemed content to stand on the corner and shout into the night. He did not come into the station.

What. The. Hell.

Riding the CTA jades me just a little bit, every day.

There was a motorman practicing his French yesterday on a NB Brown Line train. Pulling into Belmont this was the announcement:

"Mesdames et messieurs d'attention, une ligne rouge train approche la station"

I'm riding the #6 northbound to the end of the line (Columbus & Wacker) when the driver stops and parks the bus at the Stetson/Wacker stop which is in front of the Hyatt Regency. He proceeds to turn off the bus--while I was still on the bus. I walk up to the front of the bus and have the following exchange:

Rider: Is there something wrong with the bus?

Driver: I wanna go to the bafroom.

Rider: Um, this route doesn't end until Columbus, which is where I'd like to go.

Driver: I gotta go. This is my last stop.

Rider: Uh, NO. I don't believe you're allowed to just stop, turn off a bus in the middle of your route and take a break, right?

Driver: I don't care. The Hyatt lets us use the bafroom.

Rider: (dumfounded) You actually ask a hotel to use their bathroom, and this is something normal drivers are allowed to do? OK, then can you at least finish your route? It's a block away. I don't care what you do afeter I get off the bus, but at least get me where I want to go.

Driver turns bus back on on & proceeds to the next stop. I get off.

A teacher I know was telling me that last Thursday at 2:15 PM, she was at the southbound Brown Line Francisco station when this occurred. She was carrying two grocery bags and had her umbrella and was trying to get on the train when she felt someone's hand on her butt. She turned around and yelled, "What do you think you are doing?" and this guy responded, "I thought I would help you with your groceries." Lame, yes, we all know that.

I asked her what she did, and apparently being rain drenched did not help her mood, because she said she dropped her two bags of groceries and started to whaling away on him with her folded umbrella, yelling, "GET AWAY FROM ME!!!" Mr. Butt Grabber backed away from her, and she picked up her two bags and went downstairs to the CTA person in the booth to report it. According to the account, the employee was extraordinarily uninterested in going up to the platform to make sure the molester was no longer there. She told her to stand at the other side of the platform to avoid getting her butt touched.

The teacher said she ended up calling the CTA and has yet to receive a phone call back.

Whenever the Red Line has to go express to 63rd the CTA is punishing their paying customers for their own incompetence. It's made me late to work (near 35th St) more than a few times and it makes me sick.

About a Guardian Angels.
How the hell you can say if this is a assault.
They did their job. It's good that there is some one like that on the streets. And those ass holes should have their ass kick until they will know what they doing to the community and others.

So stop picking on someone that helps even if they used a little force.

Long live "Guardian Angels"

i was robbed at knife point on orange line train going downtown at 10.30pm on 03.20 at western. ipod was what he wanted then cash. please be careful.
black jacket, hooded sweatshirt. puerto rican or mixed ethnicity. around 30 yrs. old. dirty goatee and smelled of feecees.

A young African-American man tried to snatch my iPhone this morning around 9:10 am. It was on the southbound 36 bus at the Belden stop - he was one of a group of four, one of whom was a young man in drag as a young lady. I was aware of them before the incident because they were talking loudly in the back of the bus. But not so aware that I couldn't take my eyes off Twitter (damn you, Twitter!). When they got off, he stood in the aisle and looked at me while he tried to take it not once, but twice. I was too frozen to do or say anything, just watch them got off the bus and walk up Clark Street.

Yesterday, riding the Green Line home to Oak Park, I saw a man sitting with a woman on the train. Because there were no seats, I stood at the end of the train, with my back against the door that leads to the next train car. I quickly became engrossed in my book.

After a few stops, the man who gets up and tells me to move, as he is going to go out of the door. I move the best I can, as it is a very crowded train. The man then proceeds to stand outside, between the train cars and relieve himself. Fortunately I turned around before I saw anything that I really didn't want to see. Then I start to smell smoke and realize that he is smoking a cigarette. I turn back around so I don't have to watch this guy and a few minutes later he knocks on the door so I can move again and he can come back in and reclaim his seat. He is holding his still smoking and reeking cigarette butt and it smells disgusting.

Then about a minute later, he starts canoodling with his lady friend and pretty soon they are full on making out. The entire spectacle was gross and disturbing.

I didn't say anything to him about his behavior because I got the feeling that this was not a guy to mess with.

In the man's defense, I'm pretty sure he was just released from prison that day.

After a few hours of studying at the Loyola Water Tower campus library last night I finally decided to call it a night around 10pm and head home. I tried to get on the Red Line going South at Chicago. Unfortunatly, as I tried to board the cubs fan filled train, I got caught in the middle of huge fight, got pushed and hit, and then the train wouldn't leave until the fight was resolved about 25 minutes later! Just situatin where people get in the way of me minding my own business...

There was a man on the SB Brown Line train this morning about 9:20 sobbing and howling. I switched to the Red Line at Fullerton, and so did he. I made sure I got on a different car but that was no help, as he started running from car to car, sobbing and howling. I brought this to the attention of the motorman just before my stop. I didn't see him get off when I did, so I suspect there was Police Activity somewhere farther down the line.

Does frustrating count as crazy?

I was running late this morning, 4/27/09 Monday, having believed the CTA's bus tracker to be fairly accurate. Wound up walking from my place to the Red Line, which meant I got to agonizingly watch two trains pass as I was approaching the station. I told myself to just face it - I would not get to my office within the acceptable 9a - 9:15a time window.

Now ultimately, this is my fault for not allowing more time to travel. I get this.

But the CTA decided to help me be even later, as it does so many mornings.

Everything was going smoothly until we got to Lake, which is my stop. I'd stood by the door just after the Grand stop so I could be the first one off my car. The usual 5 seconds or so it takes for the doors to open passed. Then a minute passed. Then two minutes passed. Everyone was getty pissy/antsy/silently frustrated. It was 9:15 am when we pulled up, and now it was bordering on 3 minutes we'd been pulled completely into the station with no announcement. The conductor said only, "Just a moment, riders." Uh, for what? I didn't see him off of the car doing anything, no announcement of equipment trouble was made. Maybe he was finishing a crossword.

A Northbound train pulled in. Just to mock us, I'm sure. Its passengers had all disembarked and completely vacated the station, and still, none of our doors were opening. The guy standing next to me watched my eyes go up to the emergency lever over the doors, but neither of us moved. More time is passing. Pull it, you idiot, pull the lever, I kept telling myself. Finally we saw people from another car on our train leaving. What the what?

Why couldn't I just pull that red ball down to open our doors? Am I that cowardly in the face of "Emergency Only" instructions? Isn't getting fired an emergency nowadays? Thank goodness some guy behind me said, "Excuse me," calmly reached between us, and opened the doors. I would have understood if he'd hit us in the back of the head, too, like we were Art Carney on "The Honeymooners." Not sure the other cars followed suit, as I was too busy booking it up the stairs to check.

I was wondering why the conductor didn't just tell us to pull on the emergency levers ourselves? We all exited in an orderly fashion. Is he not allowed?

My office is across the street from the stop. I walked in at 9:25 am.

I called the "Your CTA" line to notify them. I was on hold for 11 minutes, and then the phone rang for another two minutes.

I spoke to a customer service agent when she finally decided to pick up the phone. I explained the entire incident, that we were never told to open the doors ourselves, never given a status update except "just a moment," telling her the passengers had to decide to pull the emergency lever to get off the train ourselves.

She paused and said, "So the doors were never opened by the conductor."
"So how did you get off the train?"
Omigod. Hulk smash.

This isn't the most frustrating thing that's happened to me on the CTA. Not by a long shot. But I was wondering if anyone else was on this train today and/or if you've had this experience before?

I think the CTA should bring back its old motto: CTA: TAKE IT. It's more appropos of its customer service.

A witnessed a strange exchange today at Howard. One of the CTA employees was walking down the red line train, looking for anyone who didn't get off the train. Just opposite my spot on the platform, there was someone still on board, so he boarded and asked him to get off the train. The guy was surly and resistant, but what surprised me was that the CTA employee, rather than remaining calm, decided to match his attitude and soon they were yelling profanities at each other on the platform:
Rider: F*** you!
CTA guy: F*** you too!
Rider: F*** you better!
CTA guy: B*tch!
Rider: Ho!

I wasn't offended and even a little amused, but mostly I was shocked at how unprofessional the CTA guy was to get into it with a rider.

An email I sent to the CTA about a recent experience:

At about 6:42 or so tonight the Blue Line train I was riding on pulled into the California stop, headed to O'Hare. I believe I was on the second-to-last or the last car. When the train pulled into California and the doors opened...I took two steps towards the doors before I realized that I had very nearly stepped out into thin air; the car I was on had stopped past the end of the platform. The doors stood open the usual amount of time for passengers to disembark the train with no message or announcement from the motorman. Then the doors closed and the train pulled ahead and the doors opened again, this time onto the platform.

Interestingly, while it is a somewhat common occurrence for a train to pull halfway into a station and stop (for whatever reason), the doors NEVER open, and nearly always the motorman comes on and says that the train isn't fully berthed into the station. This motorman never said a word, never gave a warning, although it was apparent that he knew he wasn't all the way in because he pulled up and opened the doors again.

I'm happy that I'm an alert and aware passenger (as we all should be) but really...the last thing I should have to worry about is falling to my death from the El. The motorman risked the lives of his passengers by not pulling all the way into the station. Such a careless act could have had some very dire consequences.

The CTA response:
Thank you for your complaint. We apologize for your poor travel experience. Your information has been forwarded to the responsible General Manager for corrective and appropriate disciplinary action.

Again, we are sorry for your negative experience.

We appreciate your comments.

My "poor travel experience?!" The back of a train stops a good 10 yards into thin air and it becomes a "poor travel experience?!"

I cringe every morning as I hear motormen(motorwomen) repeatedly stumble over their announcement to stand clear of the doors because said doors are about to close. The announcement usually goes one of two ways:

"Please stand clear of the doors. Doors are closing."

Can't we find a way to string that together in to a single sentence that warns passengers to avoid the doors because they are closing? Well some motormen have done so by using the pseudo-sentence:

"Please stand clear of the doors are closing."

Both of these irk me as they neither portray and image of speed and efficiency (something a transit authority should be concerned with) or exhibit a low-level mastery of they English language.

The CTA should adopt the phrase used on the NYC subway to warn passengers of the impending possibility limb-severing: "Please stand clear of the closing doors."

It is short, to the point and reduces the number of words that get yelled over the excessively-loud PA systems.

Can we post a crazy commuting tale from Pace?

Earlier this week, I was taking a Pace bus between downtown Des Plaines and the Rosemont Blue Line station. The route uses mostly side streets rather than taking the Des Plaines River Road directly.

On this particular morning, the bus was a full-length bus despite the fact that there's maybe a dozen riders per run. We were making a left turn from one side street into another when the driver had to go into the opposing lane due to parked cars on both sides of the narrow street and the bus' length.

The turn itself was safe, but there was a car coming the other way. If he had stopped where he was, we would have been clear and could easily (if slowly) jinked back to the right lane. Instead, the car kept advancing until he was nearly nose-to-nose with the bus and there was no "out" but for one of us to reverse.

Fine, people panic and make mistakes. Except this, umm, individual (I don't dignify him with the term person) put on the parking brake, reclined his seat all the way down, leaned back, and closed his eyes for a nap!

The driver called the police, but the passengers wanted to get to work as it was pretty late commuting-wise, about 8:30am! Myself and an older man on the bus got off to, umm, speak with this individual. (I know, bad idea.) His response was to repeatedly yell "F" you! and "Don't touch my car!" combined with laughing at our request, and then demand, to clear the road.

An officer arrived in only a few minutes, and we were sure this yutz was going to at least get a ticket for intentionally blocking a thoroughfare. Nope. When the officer told him to back up, he argued very briefly (and politely, no "F" bombs for the man in blue with a gun on his hip) but then backed up and left.

Am I the only person who thinks this schmuck's "lesson" from this incident was not "don't do it again, or the cops will run me in," but "I can get away with this, the cops don't care"?!

I was on the Brown Line last Thursday when the motorman decided to run express from Belmont to Western. It happens, right? Except - OOPS! - he forgot to mention it to the passengers. If you've ever wanted to see 500 disgruntled people in the same place, you should have been at the Western stop when we all exited the train to traipse down the stairs and back up the other side for a southbound. Guess we're supposed to keep one eye on the destination signs at all times, in case they change without anyone telling us.

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