Conor Cawley: The Difference Between Buses and Trains in Chicago

Public transportation is a big part of life in Chicago. It allows you 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. And if you have taken both, then you fully understand the unique intricacies of each and how they affect your 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 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 is 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 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. I love Chicago, I really do. This was a fun read; you so expertly illustrated the differences in mass transit in your fine city! I must say that my last trip down in January was all about the Uber, and it was a far less smelly, cold and sticky ride than ever before.

  2. LOL. I always preferred the train, but maybe that’s because I only road it on the weekends when I wanted to go downtown as opposed to taking the bus home from school with a hundred rowdy, disgusting, perverted teens (most of them from Marist and Brother Rice high schools).

    Last time I was on a bus in Chicago, some idiot cut off the driver who had to slam on the breaks causing my thirteen-year-old daughter to crack her head on a plastic divider between the seats. And some moron threw rocks at the bus because the driver wouldn’t let him on without a full fare. Oh, and all of that was after it took us almost an hour to get from the Midway L station to Ford City Mall. It’s like one and half freaking miles! If I hadn’t been nine months pregnant, I would have walked faster.

    I don’t really miss Chicago all that much.

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