Conor Cawley: The Differences Between Buses and Trains in Chicago

Because I live in Chicago, public transportation is a big part of my life. And while I have a car that can easily get me from point A to point B, public transportation allows me to avoid the stress of traffic, the annoyance of cyclists and the travesty of parking prices in this city.

Like most cities, there are two popular options: bus or train. I recently moved across the city and was subsequently forced to switch from one to the other. This has allowed me to fully understand the unique intricacies of each of them and how they affect my everyday commute:

The bus is a hollow tube filled with quiet people and loud cell-phones. The smell is uniquely familiar in a gross kind of way that makes you think of the bathroom in your childhood home. The seats are just nearly too small, the hand grips are weirdly too cold and the floor is obviously too sticky. There’s at least one person in your general area that could be in, or at least regularly attends the circus. The outside of your thighs are pressed against someone’s legs (or, if you are lucky to get in a row with three seats, the outside of your thighs are pressed against TWO people’s legs) and your shoulders are slumped forward so you don’t accidentally go to second base with anyone. You are forced to stare at your phone or listen to music for any reason you can muster because if you were to fully immerse yourself in the socially-inept jumble that is a Chicago bus ride, your brains would shoot out your ears.

However, the train is a hollow tube filled with quiet people and loud cell-phones. The smell is uniquely familiar in a gross kind of way that makes you think of the bathroom in your childhood home. The seats are just nearly too small, the hand grips are weirdly too cold and the floor is obviously too sticky. There’s at least one person in your general area that could be in, or at least regularly attends the circus. The outside of your thighs are pressed against someone’s legs (or, if you are lucky to get in a row with three seats, the outside of your thighs are pressed against TWO people’s legs) and your shoulders are slumped forward so you don’t accidentally go to second base with anyone. You are forced to stare at your phone or listen to music for any reason you can muster because if you were to fully immerse yourself in the socially-inept jumble that is a Chicago train ride, your brains would shoot out your ears… and sometimes, it goes underground.

Now that the vast differences are clear and apparent, you can make the decision for yourself! Choose wisely because life is all about the journey, not the destination.

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2 Comments

  1. Commuting to and from high school on the southwest side via CTA–buses were never filled with quiet people, and we were packed in like sardines so that you had to fight your way to an exit, usually missing your stop in the process because the driver sure wasn’t going to wait more than ten seconds for you to get off.

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