Rules of the road for ballgame commuters -- and regular folks squeezing onto trains, buses

Today is Opening Day for the Cubs, marking the first pitch of at least six months of even more overcrowded trains during the 30 Cubs weeknight games and approximately 45 more White Sox weeknight games. That’s not to mention about 25 weekday games at Wrigley.

You might ask why I didn’t make this post a week ago before the Sox home opener. Well, I don’t have true empirical evidence of this, but my gut tells me more baseball fans take the trains and buses to Wrigley than to U.S. Cellular Field.

  1. There’s way more parking around Sox Park, and it’s located adjacent to the Dan Ryan Expressway.
  2. Boardings at Addison on the Red Line are almost double that of Sox-35th.
  3. Wrigley has a greater capacity and last year drew nearly a million more fans than the Cell.

Here’s the official word from the CTA on how to get to Wrigley and Sox Park.

And here are my rules.

Tips for regular CTA commuters enjoying the ride with game-goers

  • Have a sense of humor. Generally, these folks are just trying to have fun.
  • Be tolerant. Baseball fans create revenue. If they have a pleasant experience, they are likely to come back. That’s important to you as a taxpaying and fare-paying citizen.
  • Corollary: Be polite and provide directions and help if asked.
  • Act as if you’re an ambassador for the city. Even if you’re tired and just want to get home.

Tips for ballgame commuters (these always work well for “regular” commuters)

  • Don’t crowd around the doors.
  • Spread out on the train platform. There are usually eight cars, and chances of boarding are better toward the front and rear of the platform.
  • Move all the way to the rear of the bus.
  • Keep your “carry-on bags” to a minimum.
  • Do not drink alcohol on the CTA. It’s against the law. And watch your language while you’re at it.
  • Know which direction you’re headed, particularly if you’ve been drinking. It’s OK to ask questions, but do that BEFORE you get on a train or bus.
  • While it might be difficult to resist boasting and gloating about your team’s victory, someone just coming home from work probably doesn’t want to hear it.
  • Don’t hit on the women — or men for that matter.

This list is certainly not all-inclusive. What have I missed?


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  • Please please PLEASE let the people off the train before you try to get on. Please!

  • Have a sense of humor. Generally, these folks are just trying to have fun.

    Though it's possible this is true, the sheer number of times I've been groped, fondled, "accidentally" had someone fall in my lap or any of the multitude of other incidents of drunken sexual harassment that me or my friends have been the victims of, I can't say I actually care to take this advice to heart.

    I don't know what it is about Cubs games that makes this behavior so prevalent but I take the CTA everywhere and this stuff only ever happens on game days. I'd love to follow your rules for non-fans because hey, I can get pretty rowdy after a Hawks game and I generally don't mind the people or loudness but I'd much prefer that Cubs fans follow the laws about not sexually harassing every woman they happen to be on the CTA with. (I mean that sincerely, I avoid the Red Line and most buses on the North Side on game days now because of this crap. I'd love if I could actually be on the CTA on game days again)

  • In reply to boldmatter:

    Excellent point, boldmatter. I do note in the rules for Cubs fans NOT to hit on the women. But I'm not a woman so I don't know your experiences.

    Also, please see my earlier post today:

    We all need to call these guys out -- women and men!

  • In reply to KevinO’Neil:

    um, no. for one thing, making it up to women to call out men for their inappropriate and illegal behavior is a cop-out. for another thing, what exactly do you think happens when we try to tell the drunken idiot to keep his body parts to himself? do you think he says "oh, i'm so sorry, my mistake!"?

  • In reply to KevinO’Neil:

    I fondly remember a moment on the Red Line at Sheridan some years ago when the train was filled with extremely obnoxious and drunk fans (not sure whether they were Cubs fans, Bears fans, or what, and obviously I'm not remembering the exact time of year). A rather petite-framed businesswoman had had it with the shouting and jumping around of a few of the drunker guys near one of the doors. As soon as the doors opened at Sheridan, she went up to them and said, "All, you, and you need to step off the train right now!" They stood there a bit stunned for a second, then obeyed...perhaps they thought she was a CTA official or something, or suddenly saw the error of their ways. Anyway, she received a nice round of applause as the train got under way, leaving the three drunks standing on the platform. She said something like, "I've had a horrible day and just cannot deal with that right now."

    But I agree that the ideal is to be friendly and helpful...there was lots of opportunity for that when the Red Line subway was closed several times a couple of years ago and there were Cubs fans wandering lost in the Loop after arriving on Metra.

  • In reply to KevinO’Neil:

    No offense but whenever I've tried to call someone out for fondling or groping me or my friends, they and their friends act like we have no sense of humor, can't take a joke, don't understand that it was an accident or some other dumb excuse. Every single time it's me and my friends being uncomfortably glared at like we're the ones who ruined the party because we wouldn't sit there and let drunk guys take liberties. It's not being hit on (sure that gets old too but not nearly as quickly as drunk dudes "accidentally" touching my business), it's being harassed, which are really, really different things.

    I was explaining why it is that so many people who ride the CTA don't have a sense of humor on Cubs game days and why we'll probably continue to have neither a sense of humor nor tolerance.

  • In reply to boldmatter:

    If someone is fondling or groping you, then that's an assault or even battery, and he should be arrested. Call 911.

    Yes, I know that's easy for me to say as a man. But it may be the only way to make it stop.

  • In reply to KevinO’Neil:

    How about some undercover cops?

    Aside from that, it's clear that these offenders and many others have come to assert a low standard of behavior in and near Cubs Park as the prevailing one. Apparently no grownups have come back at them lately (like the petite businesswoman in the message below) to reassert a better community standard, and say either learn to have fun without being loathsome, or get out. They may pout but they'll get over it. (Ricketts family, please take note! Kass already passed the word to the Sox to crack down and clean up.)

  • In reply to KevinO’Neil:

    I realize you already covered this but SWEET JESUS, DON'T STAND BY THE DOORS!! It's irritating, you look like a goof and you're actually much more muggable when you crowd by the door. Don't worry; the train will let you get off. Oh, and by the way, the L or bus is how some of us get around all the time. As much as it might seem like a really exciting thrill ride, it's not. Please keep your excitement about your assumed badass street cred to a minimum.

  • In reply to KevinO’Neil:

    F#$% cubs's just yet another excuse to go out, get trashed, act like morons, and disrupt the public thinking they are god's hilarious gift to mankind. I've seen nothing BUT obnoxious behavior from these idiots, and I really could not care less if some douchebag doesn't ever take the CTA again. I'd rather have a safe and sane train than extra revenue.

  • In reply to mugen:

    I have to say my two encounters with CubsFan-filled trains yesterday were not bad: everyone seemed under control and fairly patient with the stuffed-train situation. One piece of advice I'd give fans, though: visit the loo at the stadium before heading over to the L. Seems like just about every trainful of Cubs fans after a game contains someone who's about to burst and keeps whining about it during the inevitable delays.

  • In reply to mugen:

    "Don't stand by the doors" holds for the buses too. This afternoon I encountered the first of my unending summer delights on the eastbound 152 Addison bus. Seats available in the back "upper deck". Two guys in moderate degree of Cubs gear get on. And stop to stand leaning on both sides of the aisle right by the fare card reader. 4+ miles west of Wrigley. Yes, guys, people do get on and off the bus at stops other than where you got on, the Blue Line, and Wrigley. Yes, that's why they keep tripping over your sandal-clad feet and reach behind your butt to scan their farecard. As others point out, yes, YOU will be able to get off the bus at your destination (although your riding position may mean others CAN'T get off at THEIR stop).

  • In reply to boldmatter:

    Looking frightened attracts muggers. So even if you are afraid of coming into the big bad city, you really shouldn't act like it.

    And get away from the doors! I know that's in the article, but I don't think it can be said often enough, even to regular commuters. You do not have to stand by the doors.

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