Monday, January 2, 2012

Public Transportation

Growing up in small-town Kansas, I hardly knew there was such a thing. I knew you could catch a cab in the big city, but all we had was the Senior Citizen Van perusing the streets. I had no idea buses and trains ran non-stop in most metropolises. As I've continued to move to larger & more-populated areas, I've come to realize public transportation is a vital part of these communities.

In Chi, the most well-known mode of transportation is the train. It has a way of looping around downtown, then shooting out to the outskirts of the city, sometimes like an underground subway system, but most popularly elevated above the streets, which is how it got its nickname, The El. Even for a small-town girl, I find it quite easy to maneuver. Different colors are for different lines, each with different starting/ending points, but each making their way through the heart of the city somewhere along the line.

On my first visit to Chi, hubby took me on an outing, which included catching the bus to the train station & riding the El downtown. I was pumped!!! He gave me his spare bus pass & instructed me on how to insert it into the machine before we got on the bus. I must have had the biggest grin on my face, as I climbed aboard. I was in living the big city life and obviously not fitting in! I'm sure the driver thought I was on drugs or he'd missed out on something hilarious, because who is this excited to ride the city-bus! I fumbled around, until I figured out how to insert my card. Then, looked for 2 open seats amongst all of the melancholy faces. I was obviously alone in my amazement of the CTA (Chicago Transit Authority) bus!

Then, hubs explained how I could pull the cord, lining the inner bus-wall to indicate our stop. I was all gitty and ridiculous all over again. We made it safely to the train station and once again, another first! He had the I'm-a-CTA-regular, pre-paid card. So, we swapped cards this time. With this one, you just tap the ticket machine, rather than it being sucked in & spat back out again. Then, it's down to the platform to wait for your train. All the while, you're trying to protect yourself from the wind/rain, vagabonds and a number of other things that may cross your path. This particular stop is located in between two lanes on the freeway. You're outside & literally standing in the middle of the highway; I found it to be pretty cool. There are also downtown stops which are underground, because they are literally running under the Chicago River.

Looking south, at the White Sox stop on the Red Line....
U.S. Cellular Field, formerly Comiskey Park

Looking north, view of downtown...

Some people feel they are too good for riding public transportation, but I figure if it's good enough for Santa, it's good enough for me!


Now that I'm a seasoned vet, I can't say I'm quite so amazed by public transportation. It has its perks & it can be convenient. However, there is of course an adverse side to it. I'll have to elaborate on that another time . . .


Nancy Evans said...

Do you ever find yourself saying, "I'm college educated. I CAN do this!!!" ????

Jaime said...

Haha... I'm just glad I'm not trying to figure this out in NYC. They say it's insane!