Memorial Day is the unofficial start of summer, though a quick look at a thermometer may cast doubt on that theory. Nevertheless, summer tourism season means more crowds on the CTA.
The uptick in ridership means an increase in the likelihood of spotting these five unsavory character types on buses and trains. Though the weather's a bummer (for now), don't let these CTA riders ruin your summer.
>>Fanny Pack Jack: Tourists are easy to spot. Look for the confused stares, the crumpled maps and the duck move. Fanny Pack Jack likely will stop all the buses on Michigan Avenue to duck in and ask the driver 1,000 questions about tourists traps. (Sample queries: Where is Navy Pier? How far away is the art museum? Am I in Chicago?) Meanwhile, his wife, Mag Baggage, will take up multiple seats with her luggage while other riders stand.
Although Jack and Mag are annoying, let's help them by explaining how to get where they are going and where to place their luggage so they don't slow down the driver or boarding process. The more you aid tourists, the faster they'll get to the American Girl store at Water Tower Place.
>>Doug Mugger: The presence of Fanny Pack Jack and Mag Baggage on the CTA tends to attract Doug Mugger. First things first: Hide your iPhones, iPads and laptops. E-mailing your boss or texting your beau are not good reasons to risk losing your phone—and possibly getting hurt in the process.
Pay special attention on the new combined Green and Red lines now that the CTA has shuttered the southern section of the Red Line and shuttled passengers to the Green Line. Police last week issued community alerts for iPhone robberies in the Loop and near the 35th/Bronzeville/IIT Green Line stop.
>>Smelly Ellie: Straps have become more fashionable since the CTA started rolling out more of its new rail cars with aisle-facing seats on the Red, Green and Pink lines. The design of the car encourages those who can't find a seat to hold the hanging straps.
But with Smelly Ellie, it's the stench of underarms that seems to hang around. Riders, invest in deodorant! Two dollars can go a long way on the CTA—both in distance and in scent.
>>Cole Stroller: The CTA began a campaign last year to inform riders of the agency's stroller policy. Here's a breakdown: If there's no room for your stroller on the bus, fold it up. Don't put it in the doorway or in priority seating if there's a rider who needs the seat, which is intended for the elderly and riders with disabilities. Leave your double-wide ride at home.
>>Harry O. Stereo: We get it, it's (almost) summer. Time to celebrate—but do so quietly. Traffic jams aren't an excuse to pump up the jams on your cellphone. A train that isn't moving isn't an excuse to show off your moves. Many riders are on the CTA to get to work, not to see you twerk.
A weekly dispatch from a CTA station of note
This week: Addison Brown Line
Numbers-wise, this North Center station isn't doing so well compared with its Brown Line counterparts. This year through March, the stop saw its ridership dip by 2 percent versus the same period last year. Its neighbor to the north, the Irving Park station, saw a 4 percent jump while its neighbor to the south, the Paulina station, saw a 4.5 percent increase.
The Addison station, though, is all about the numbers. The station has a bronze art installation on its walls that duplicates Cubs legends Ron Santo's handwriting to depict the box score for the May 14, 1969, baseball game between the Cubs and the San Diego Padres, according to the CTA. For those keeping score, the Cubs won 3-2, thanks to Santo and Hall of Famer Ernie Banks.
Next up: Roosevelt on the Red, Orange and Green lines
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