Everything That Will Definitely Happen to You While Riding the CTA

Published On 07/15/2016 Published On 07/15/2016

There's no experience quite like riding on public transit in Chicago. The CTA is famous for its elevated train, annoying fare card system, and at the very least being cleaner than New York City's public transit. There are a lot of nuanced experiences that will need to be seen to be believed. If you're a daily commuter you've likely got a lot of these checked off your list.

On the bus

Tourists will be completely unaware they keep causing the back doors to open
... yet they can’t figure out how they open when they need to get off.
You will be rerouted around a street festival
... and then another, and another, and another.
Young Bulls fans will shout-sing '90s pop hits at the top of their lungs after a win
"Hey now, you’re an all-star. Get your game on. Get paid."


You will find yourself reading a romance novel over someone’s shoulder
You’ll be delayed waiting for an octogenarian to argue their way onto the bus 
... without a working Ventra pass, but the driver won’t wait for them to sit before he speeds off.
Your driver will hold all passengers hostage arguing with someone who won't buckle in a wheelchair
... when she’s probably not even wearing a seatbelt herself.

Lincoln Rogers/Shutterstock

You will sit next to a sick cat on their way to the vet
... and that meowsical kitty will pawsitively ruin your caturday.

The A/C will be working
... in February.

You will pass Menomonee
... and get this song stuck in your head.

You will wait and wait and wait for people to MOVE TO THE BACK OF THE BUS!
Seriously, it’s like three steps. You will be allowed off the bus!

A horde of hormonal high school students will overcome your entire bus heading home
Love is real, guys.


You will wait 25 minutes for your bus, watching dozens of others go the opposite direction
...and the same again later when you need to transfer.

Someone will fall asleep on you
At least you have someone to cuddle away the cold with.

jessicakirsh /

On the ‘L'

You’ll gleefully run onto the only empty car during rush hour
... and quickly learn to never do that again.

You will share a seat with someone’s fully functioning road bike
... and never understand why they just didn’t ride it home!

You'll get the one cheery conductor making rush hour announcements on the red line 
... and it will make your day.

A few Sox fans will spill their beers on you on the way to the game
... and you’ll always wish they offered you one.

Meanwhile, a Cubs fan may spill different fluids
A ticking time bomb.

You’ll watch the shell game guy and his cohorts try to scam tourists
... in disbelief that he hasn't been arrested 1,000 times.

Courtesy of Ben Larrison

You will learn about squirrels
God bless Kickstarter.

Some morning person is a chatty a-hole on their way to work
... and you’re still reeling from a late Wednesday night. No judgements.

The date across the aisle from you will try to out-couple you and yours
... but you know you two are cuter.

There will be a one-man drum circle
... you didn’t bring your djembe?

New Chicago transplants will overtake your car with all the Craigslist furniture in the world
... there had to have been free alley furniture closer to the apartment, you guys.

Flickr/cta web

You will wait in freezing temperatures to ride the Holiday Train
... just because you’re positive the seats are cleaner.

You’ll share a car with a pigeon
Boy are his arms tired!

It will be freezing and hailing on the platform
... and there will be no heat because it’s July.

The train you’re waiting for will go express and skip your station
... and the train you get onto going back will skip your stop due to construction.


And in general

You will be farted at and upon
... possibly even with direct eye contact.

Mormon missionaries will try to have casual chats with you
... but if they aren’t wearing their tie, you won’t know until it’s too late!

You will get smacked in the face by several large sacks of books
... it’s like reading War and Peace through aggressive osmosis.

You will be forced to listen to someone else’s music on their speakerphone
... because who doesn’t like reggaeton mashups of Metallica and Shaggy?

Someone will clip their toenails
... and you’ll be in clear firing range.

Flickr/Erin Nekervis

... it’s when a man physically mansplains how much man-room it thinks it man-needs.

Someone will hit you in the face by spinning the hanging handles over the bar
... it was me.

Your face will end up in an armpit
... and not a clean one.

You will make eye contact with a person eating during the “no eating” announcement
... and wish you brought a snack.

You will see many different parenting techniques
... yet none of them seem to work.

William Perugini/Shutterstock

Tourists will clog the escalator, standing on the wrong side
... it’s the worst game of chess.

A gaggle of people will stop right in front of the door when getting off to look at their phones
Multitasking is hard.

You will hear one half of a very personal phone conversation
... but now we all want to know who the daddy is.

There will be a dozen questionable stains on your seat
... and you’ll sit anyway. It wasn’t wet, right?

You will see a 1970s pimp
Like, for real.

You will catch someone taking your picture
... and they’ll make eye contact with you as they post it to Instagram.


You will judge the Tinder actions of the person next to you
... because that girl is way too young for him.

You will hear someone give a tourist wrong directions
... but why would you correct them?

You will start reading a book
... You will not finish a book.

You will keep a mental tally of every CTA Safety PSA rule you’ve broken
It’s like Bingo, but your prize is that you’re still on the CTA.

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Zack Shornick is a Thrillist contributor who takes most of his meals on the "L" and loves swinging those bus handles. Follow him @zackshornick.



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