Internet Thunder (colleenabean) wrote in chicago_el,

Metra vs. CTA

Two consecutive days last week, I took Metra to the suburbs after work. The difference between Metra and the CTA during rush hour is staggering. Union Station was just like a bad dream, where you're running late and you are panicking but nothing you do seems to help. The line to get a ticket was about 75 people long. I tried to find an ATM so I could buy my ticket on the train (not knowing if I even could) but somehow ended up in Amtrak land.

I finally got some cash and began looking for my train's platform and the amount of people around me tripled. Commuters on the CTA walk briskly but they aren't crazed. They move with purpose but not in a maddened state of panic like the Metra commuters do. Everyone is funneling themselves into different doorways with complete disregard for everyone else around. They have a train to catch dammit, they do this everyday, get the fuck out of the way.

I finally got down to the train and was surprised that the vestibule was packed with standing passengers. Like the robot I am, I shoved my way on. I got many dirty looks. Oops. This isn't CTA where we all tolerate standing uncomfortably close to one another for a few stops. This is a long commute and I broke a rule of suburban commuting. I then noticed that while everyone's jammed in the vestibule, there's no one standing in the isles between the seated passengers. So I shoved my way into the isle and stood there the whole ride, getting stared at by the seated passengers. There was plenty of room for the people coming by, even the train conductor didn't care that I was standing there. I stood staring at the jam packed vestibule thinking they must be poisoning the suburban water supply with irrational behavior juice and I better not drink any when I'm out there.

I returned to the CTA commute the next day and was so happy to cram and be crammed, to be in a hurry but not feel as if a trampling is imminent and to share a speeding metal car with people who know you gotta fill up every little space and just say 'scuse me when you want out. The whole thing made me love the CTA a little bit more. A lot more.
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