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A brief guide to your 'L' breakup

April 16, 2012|By Tracy Swartz, RedEye

Blame it on the train.

Track work starts Friday in the Loop as the CTA labors to replace more than two miles of aging infrastructure over several weekends this spring. This weekend's work will focus on the track between the Washington/Wells and Harold Washington Library stops. Trains that typically used those paths will reroute to Wabash Avenue and Lake Street tracks from Friday evening until early Monday morning.

Meanwhile, the Red Line is seeing its share of troubles. Baseball is in full swing, and Sox and Cubs fans are packing trains before and after the games. Fans of getting home on time, though, are left in the dust. On the northern section of the line, the Granville stop in Edgewater will close for repairs on May 11 for up to six weeks as part of a North Side Red Line rehab project.

The CTA has also been battling slow zones and rail delays. In February, according to the latest data posted to the CTA's Web site, 92 rail delays of 10 minutes or more were reported. The CTA's monthly target is 78 delays. Slow zones currently plague nearly 12 percent of track.

For those rail riders tired of packed trains, reroutes, slow zones and delays, perhaps it's time to trade the railroad for the open road.

Going Public has devised a guide to help with this train-sition. Take it from someone who recently completed a two-year project to travel all 139 CTA bus routes from start to finish: Patience is key.

>> Stash that cash. As a rail rider, you should already have a fare card. Let's keep it that way. Paying with cash on buses slows the boarding process. Spring/summer/odd March weather hasn't consistently stuck around so keep in mind that if you're taking your time to board, you're leaving your fellow commuters out in the cold.

>> Don't go on strike. Let's not beat around the bus: Never pound on the side of the bus. Ever. Even if the bus is pulling away as you are arriving.

>> Choose your words wisely. Your bus driver is there to drive—not to give you a tour of Michigan Avenue. If you're not sure which stop is yours, ask a fellow rider. Don't distract your bus driver by hovering around the front of the bus. You are better than the tourists. If you have to ask for a direction, and you have to ask a bus driver, do so as you board the bus and pay your fare. That's fair.

>> Perfect your pole dance. It's pretty simple. If you are standing in the front of the bus and can move to the back, do so. Sticking with your spot at the front of the bus as riders try to board can lead to congestion. It's easier if everyone moves to the back as quickly as possible. Use the straps and poles when possible.

>> Deliver the litter, the sooner the better. Garbage cans are easy to spot in rail stations but not so easy to spot on buses. Here's a hint: Garbage cans are not located on your seat, the side of the bus, the middle of the floor or on your fellow passengers. There should be a garbage bin by the exit doors near the back of the bus—or save your garbage for when you deboard and can find an appropriate receptacle.

Talk to us

The new 5000-series rail cars with the aisle-facing seats are expected to return to service early next month. Have you missed them? Send an email to tswartz@tribune.com. Please include your full name, age and neighborhood.

Stationary

A weekly dispatch from a CTA station of note

This week: Armitage Brown/Purple Line stop

Whose lines are these anyway? Brown and Purple Line riders are greeted with dozens of photos near the turnstiles in the Lincoln Park station. Under the photos are excerpts of memories from commuters who were asked to describe a Chicago place that's significant to them. A Columbia College grad interviewed Armitage riders about their experiences in 2007 and created the installation.

Next up: Austin Blue Line stop

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