Ah, the CTA. Such a wonderful thing for those of us who require transportation around downtown Chicago, yet who aren’t willing to suffer a heart attack due to stress in exchange for commuting by car.
The majority of my commute is spent getting to the Metra train station, parking the car, paying for my spot, waiting (while shivering) for the Metra, then actually on the train itself. But it’s those damn CTA busses that are the tricky part.
After working four whole weeks in the city, I’ve learned there are CTA rules, and there are CTA rules. Behold the top five rules to surviving the busses in downtown Chicago!
5. It all starts the moment you leave your house.
Leaving on time doesn’t only influence catching the Metra.
You have to get yourself to the station, parked, paid for, and immediately start walking to where the head cars will soon be stopped. Don’t do this? You miss out on a seat up front. And then? You have to walk through more people and a greater distance to get out of Ogilvie. So? Well, as soon as you cross the street to get to the corner of Canal and Madison, you make it just in time to wave goodbye to the back of your bus.
Like what happened to me on Monday.
4. Be willing to get lost.
Because when it’s cold, raining, and windy, waiting another 17 minutes for the 157 isn’t an option.
That’s when it’s time to put on your big girl pants, go outside your comfort zone, grab your smart phone, and try a new adventurous route to work.
3. Google is a helpful tool.
Google Maps, to be specific.
Thirty-five seconds after waiving goodbye to the 157, you can pull up the nearest alternate bus routes, directions to the nearest stops, and time frames on everything!
2. Google sucks, get a bus tracker app. Or three.
Google, actually, is great.
For routes, planning, and directions.
…but for timing? Not so much.
Using Google in conjunction with bus tracker apps, you can find out the most accurate route, and the most accurate time. But I’d download a couple tracker apps. Every so often, one doesn’t update correctly, causing you to miss your bus.
Like what happened to me on Wednesday.
1. Hold on!
No really, hold on. At all times.
But at least for sure when you’re paying, walking, standing, moving, and sitting.
Those corners come fast, some people walking on the streets think it’s ok to dart out in front of large busses, and cars are constantly racing to cut in front.
You guys, I may look like a scared tourist, one hand with a death grip on the nearest handle, the other tracking our route on google maps so I don’t miss my stop….but I haven’t fallen once.
There’s always next Monday….