9 most annoying things on CTA trains

Sometimes, our fellow CTA passengers are just plain annoying. Here’s what they do to bug us.

Wide-spread legs man: He takes up almost two seats because he needs so much room to air out his junk. Just close your legs, man!

Screaming cellers: It’s bad enough they are talking on their phones on the L. What makes it worse is how loud they talk. We don’t need to know about how much of a jerk your boyfriend is. Shut up!

Bruising backpacks: When you’re backpack is that big, you take up the space of two people. So stop hitting me with it.

Super strollers: Sorry,  but I don’t think you’re 3-year-old needs to be in a BMW-sized stroller. So move it out of the aisle.

Ignorant eaters: First, your food smells in this confined space. Second, you left you garbage there on the seat. Stop, you ignoramus!

Flagrant littering: See previously. That empty McDonald’s bag stinks and makes the ride much less pleasant.

Music and video without earbuds: Sure that YouTube movie is hilarious. But it’s just more noise to use.. Put on your earbuds

Standing in the doorway: There are other people who are trying to leave the train, while you stand in the doorway. Move!

Sick people: OK, so you you can’t afford to stay home from school or work. But stop sneezing all over other passengers.

What did I miss? Tell us in comments.
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  • People who bring animals on board that are not in a carrier nor are they service animals.

  • fb_avatar

    Annoying riffraff on the train esp. the ones trying to sell junk. And the one bum that stinks up the brand new $3mil railcar for everyone else.

  • 1. People who insist on being the first on the bus & pay with cash, don't have their card out or have real trouble getting up, even when the driver has kneeled the bus. Even with my arthritis [bad enough that I'll get new knees when I get Medicare later this year], I can get on & tap my card faster before you will have gotten on. I will gladly give up my seat if you're in worse shape than me!

    2. The same goes for those who insist on being the first to go up or down stairs, but have trouble walking them. Again, wait for those who are faster. Not only will that make most people's commute faster, it will also prevent you from getting bowled over by someone in a hurry & not watching where they are going! This is especially bad at Granville & Loyola, when NB trains stop & so many get up & go to the doors at Bryn Mawr to be first off, due to the wretched station designs!

    3. People who are together, but insist on sitting across the aisle from each other & yakking loudly to be heard over the noise of the bus or train.
    Sit together, da m mit!

    4. People who are waiting at a bus stop with more than one route stopping there & even though they are the only one there, let the driver pull up & stop, open the door & then tell him, no, not my bus!
    Walk back from the curb, turn your back to the bus, but shake your head no, if you can so the driver can see it's not your bus & just pass you by. If I can do that, so can they!

    I'm sure, as there are more comments, I'll think of several hundred more things!

  • In reply to ScooterLibbby:

    The topic was trains.

  • In reply to jack:

    Almost all that happen on buses, also happen on trains.
    #2 & #3 were about trains.
    There are plenty of people that get to the turnstile & then get out their cards, thus backing up the rest of us.

    Plus I have no reason to understand why Kevin limited his initial complaints to trains, as it's not just a CTA wide problem, but the same on Metra & Pace.

  • I agree with everything Scooter Libby says, but that guy who's stinkin' up all the cars is homeless and hasn't had a bath in months . . . OK, years but who's counting! Those guys get to have the entire car to themselves.

    And thanks for the laughs, Scooter! You wrote the truth!!!

  • I'm surprised that the longest existing one wasn't mentioned: People who won't move to the middle of the car and block you from doing so. Have the overcrowding in 2010 and the seating arrangement in the 5000s cured that?

    The seating arrangements in the 3200s and 5000s pretty much cured people in the aisle seat blocking the window seat.

    Maybe related to "blocking the doors" is that people on the platform usually know where the door opens, but then there is the conflict of whether you are supposed to let on or off those at the door first.

    And since it is the train system, the "solicitors" at the TVM. They know you have money.

  • In reply to jack:

    I gotta second what Jack said about people not letting you move to the middle. Especially a problem when I'm making a beeline for an empty seat I've spotted, and the people ahead of me just stop short of that area because they intend to stand. If you don't want the seat, for goodness' sake let someone else get to it!

    Also second the standing in the doorway problem. Some people treat the doorway area as though it is their personal travel compartment instead of the place for everyone to enter and exit. Keep it clear, please! Oh, and if you're getting on the train: Let people get off first.

    Finally, a plea about running for trains and single-file escalators and the strong vs. the weak. If you are big and strong and energetic fast and impatient and unable to use a clock or more modern devices to make sure you leave your house on time so you'll arrive where you're going on time, you can just as easily run up the stairs if you think you're about to miss a train, which you probably aren't actually, as it is so easy to misinterpret the sounds. Don't breathe down the necks of older/weaker people who use escalators for riding, not running. They have a right to exist and to move at their own pace; it's not all about making way for you.

  • In reply to CCWriter:

    Weren't the numerous Train Tracker screens and apps supposed to take care of the last? Or do they exacerbate it?

  • In reply to jack:

    My impression is that people still react instinctively to the train sound, and never mind the available info. Even the big screen right next to the escalator could be discussing the weather at that moment. I've gotten so I just look around me and hang back a bit from the escalator if I think someone's fixing to make a dash. I may indulge myself in a meaningful look.

  • The derailments.

  • In reply to johnpseudonym:

    Ha! I was just about to add "derailments" to the list John!

  • In reply to Kevin O’Neil:

    Watching WGN morning news right now and I immediately came to the Tattler for the real scoop! I look forward to reading your next post about this. Glad no one has been injured or killed by this CTA train. We aren't Metra!

  • In reply to johnpseudonym:

    Edit that to "not killed." Glad these injuries don't seem serious, though.

  • In reply to johnpseudonym:

    Despite that term being used in various TV news reports, it is not a derailment if the train continues straight, jumps the barrier and climbs the escalator.

    However, there is something persistently wrong on the Blue Line if trains keep overriding the deadman and signal system, given the similar, but ghost train crash in Forest Park. Maybe the NTSB can get to the bottom of it, but it doesn't look like the 3000s are going to last until the projected 2019.

  • Heavy texters who apparently can't work with only visual cues that announce there's a new message. No -- they have to have their audio alert on, too. Most often it is the "tweet tweet tweet TWEET TWEET" series of bird-like whistles that is, for the record, driving me slowly insane.

    - - -

    May I toss in "CTA lady" (voice used in the "Attention Customers ..." incoming train announcements)? Please bring back Patty/Selma. Today's CTA lady sounds suspiciously like "TSA lady" in airports and just as sappy. Was Mr. T not available? I'd *so* prefer something along those lines.

    - - -

    One other thing: What buffoon (or pack of buffoons) sets the volume of the train speakers? I can hear the %^&*ing things from hundreds of yards away. I think they're accommodating a "corner case" that doesn't exist.

  • In reply to Blue:

    You used to hear them from the Dominick's on Howard. CTA cured that one by closing the Dominick's.

  • In reply to jack:

    When the wind is blowing right, I can hear the "ding-dong" at home, blocks away from my station.

  • In reply to Blue:

    I don't know how "Patty/Selma" got that name, but I do prefer a local accent. We don't have to be like NY or everyplace else. By Mr. T do you mean "I pity the fool" etc.? Good idea. Too bad the late Dennis Farina is not available. Could we persuade Dennis Franz?

  • In reply to CCWriter:

    Bob Sirott comes cheap.

    However, there was the big deal that Mr. CTA is from WisKahnSin and uses the "proper" pronunciations for Clybourn and Goethe.

  • In reply to jack:

    Since somehow this got to Mr. CTA, him saying "violators will be arrested." Yeah, sure.

  • In reply to jack:

    I hate the way he pronounces Goethe, it actually sounds a bit like Burton, just two stops away. he says it that way because of that useless Kreusi, who was of German descent.
    But Lee Crooks mispronounces Bryn Mawr as Bryn Mahr.
    But the worst are the announcements downtown telling people to change for Metra stations. He doesn't say what Metra stations. I can imagine someone getting to LaSalle/Van Buren on an Orange Line train from Midway, wanting to get off & change to a Metra UP NW train, then finding out they have to go to Madison & Canal, either by walking or going back up the stairs & paying another fare to go just two more stops to Washington/Wells for the correct stop for their train!

  • In reply to ScooterLibbby:

    Conan O'Brien mispronounced Kruesi's name (Crewseye), in some sort of tribute to the Pink Line when Conan was at the Chicago Theater, so I guess we are even. Except, who is Conan O'Brien?

  • In reply to ScooterLibbby:

    Yer sposta know.

  • Had it been a 5000 that slammed into the bumping post, there would have been a lot more injuries as people would have been cut up by the stanchions between seats.

    And I too wonder how the signal system could have allowed such a high speed at the end of the line.

    After a similar wreck in London at least a decade ago, the London Transport officials said they would never again design & build a dead end into a revenue track.

  • Oh boy, where to start.

    OK, I'll join the chorus on kicking the doorway blockers in the head. Step all the way in, or be prepared to get off and stand on the platform, but DO NOT stand in the doorway with your feet sticking out and force everyone to trip over you.

    Operators who don't know how to operate the throttle/brakes in a smooth manner. I don't understand why they'll jump on the throttle coming out of a station, and then immediately dump it 20 feet later, jerking standing riders off their feet. Also, they'll pull into a station and stop, and then abruptly open the throttle again to move the train another 5 feet. Look, I'm sure it's not a cakewalk to operate a train smoothly, but there are enough operators that can run the train without spilling a drop of water from a full Champagne glass, so I know it's possible. (Note: same goes for bus driver). I swear that if I was running the agency, I'd install accelerometers on all buses and trains, and any operator that exceeded a specific threshold would be penalized.

    Along the same line, I don't understand why the interlocks can't be aligned before the train arrives when there are no crossing trains, requiring the train to come to a stop for 15 seconds, before getting the signal to proceed. Not only does it result in unnecessary brake wear, but it slows down the commute for everyone.

    Heaters. For the love of god, do we need the heaters cranked to 95 degrees when everyone is wearing a heavy winter coat, and we're packed like sardines? The temperature should be no more than 50 degrees. Nobody is going to freeze to death.

    On the flipside, nothing beats a nice ride during the peak of summer when the A/C is barely working.

    Over-packed trains. Buy some d*mn additional trainsets. 'Nuff said.

    Panhandlers. It should be permit-able by law to use a taser on an aggressive panhandler. Heck, they should give the person a medal.

    Stations with too few turnstiles/gates. With Ventra cards taking fooooooooooorever, many stations need additional turnstiles/gates. For example, the NE corner of Merchandise Mart has ONE bidirectional gate. Unacceptable. The Milwaukee/Chicago Blue Line staion has what, 2 max 3 turnstiles?

    Narrow platforms and braindead riders. There are a few stations that have very narrow platforms, e.g. Van Buren and LaSalle. Of course, it's not dangerous enough, so we need to have riders standing in these areas who are completely oblivious to their surroundings. Good luck trying to get past them without getting knocked on the rails. If you're going to stand in these narrow areas, please face the tracks with your back near the wall to allow ample room for people to get past.

    People standing on escalators. If you're not going to expend the energy to walk up an escalator, then please stand to the right. On the narrow ones, please wait until the walkers get on before you decide to block the way. This is especially bothersome at Congress/LaSalle.

    People standing and blocking the way on DOWN escalators deserve a special place in hell. I could have two broken legs, and I still would walk down an escalator.

    To be continued.....

  • In reply to SpinyNorman:

    If you had my knees you would *not* be walking down the escalator. Down hurts a lot more than up. FTR, I stand to the side and let the walkers past.

  • In reply to Cheryl:

    Lol. I just had a torn meniscus scoped. I tore it back in September, and I wore a knee brace for several months. I *still* walked up and down the escalators. :-)

  • In reply to SpinyNorman:

    So, are you going to be ready to make an appearance in the playoffs?

  • In reply to SpinyNorman:


    You're so energetic, use the stairs. I do stand to the right on a double escalator so don't tell me I don't and that makes me bad. Not guilty. Of course, even that is not good enough for some people, even the old and tired must walk up both sides of the escalator according to them. On a single one, if you're in such a hurry you can run up the stairs, it'll maybe cost you 5 seconds vs. the escalator. This is supposed to be a civilized society in which the less strong aren't expected to give way to the strong just because they're strong and impatient and think that makes them better and more entitled. I won't wish you in anyone else's shoes but maybe you should think about it: It's not all about you. We are not blocking, we are just going about our business like you. I may get out of your way because I don't want you trying to shove me out of your way, but I reserve the right to give you a dirty look. And you deserve it.

    There are not many down escalators on the CTA. And you know what? If you are a masochist with your knees that doesn't give you the right to subject everyone else to pain and hell. Who else is on your list of no courtesy or exemptions? How about the elevators, shall you forbid those to others as well because we shouldn't be babies or something?

    And speaking of CTA escalators, could someone responsible for the one in the main entrance to the Howard station find a hardware store and buy a can of WD-40 and spray it underneath? Or as one fellow rider suggested, pour a can of bacon grease into the cracks? It's been sounding like a bad trumpet player for months now. Can't be good for the mechanism.

  • Worst irritation by passenger: the script beggar, who bleats to the whole car how he (it's never a she) just got out of jail, refuses to sell drugs, is looking for a job etc etc etc.

    Worst irritation by driver: incomprehensible announcements. I don't know if it's the system or the way the driver uses it, but it usually sounds like "We are snorf brf bupper greep waiting for wetschel verberum grovit prip. Sorry for the sitchemkurl gooper grock. Greeple burr whick knable shortly."

  • In reply to travellinpat:

    Travellinpat: Loved how you captured in writing the incomprehensible announcements. That's just what they sound like!

  • In reply to travellinpat:

    The strange associations continue. Speaking of "Chicago voices" Bruce Wolf had a pretty good imitation of how the mumbling sounded at Fullerton (done while he was the street reporter on the Chicago Marathon there). Of course that was before Mr. CTA and Bruce being fired from Channel 32.

  • In reply to travellinpat:

    That's too funny. I found the drivers often sound like either Mushmouth from the Fat Albert cartoon ("Heybay, Fabat Abert"), or the teacher from Charlie Brown ("Waa Waa Waaaa!").

  • I wish they'd reroute one of the Green line trains so that it ran on the west and south sides of the Loop. They were doing this in the evening rush while the Red line was undergoing reconstruction.

    If you ride from south Loop stations, i.e. Van Buren/LaSalle or Library, there's no direct path south. The Orange line loops clockwise around the Loop before heading south, and the Brown line heads north to the Adams stop, where you have to cross over to pick up the Green or Orange lines.

    I guess we should consider ourselves lucky that we got the Pink line, so we can at least get back to the south side. Previously, there was no train from the north or east loop that would take you to the south Loop.

  • As for the train crashing through the bumper post, on Jan. 19, 1953, Pennsylvania GG1 locomotive 4876 ran through the post at Washington Union Station & then went through the floor & landed on the first floor of the headhouse.
    The floor was covered with plywood as the next day was Inauguration day, but then the loco was cut up into three pieces & welded back together & ran for almost 30 more years. It's stored in Baltimore & in poor condition.

  • In reply to ScooterLibbby:

    Easier to understand how a locomotive can fall through the floor than how this train jumped an about 3 foot high concrete wall, went another maybe 10 feet up the escalator, and 40 feet laterally. Maybe the NTSB can figure it out.

  • In reply to jack:

    Because it had seven other cars pushing it from behind (momentum): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Rt_lu1LLTKo

  • Unless there was a tornado in the station that sucked the train up, your link doesn't prove anything.

  • In reply to jack:

    I think it was similar to the 1977[?] Lake/Wabash wreck, where the second train, run by a motorman stoned on pot, was still in notch 2 or 3 & kept pushing against the stopped train & that caused the two cars to end up on the ground.
    This train had an operator, supposedly asleep, but why didn't the deadman control shut it down. I thought that required some sort of input every 20 seconds to avoid shutdown. Unless she somehow overrode it.

  • In reply to ScooterLibbby:

    There are the similarities to 1977 in that somehow the cab signal was overcome, although a red apparently only means reset the controller and go up to 15 mph.

    The deadman is an issue here, and more obviously on the Forest Park crash, where there apparently was no operator. I suppose an operator could nod off with enough weight on the controller.

    What's similar in 1977 and Forest Park was that the bottoms of the cars made contact. In the 1977 case, it forced the back end of car #1 off the tracks, and at FP, the cars contacted at the anticlimbers, pushing the bottom fronts in, and resulting in the top fronts contacting and collapsing.

    What's different here is that somehow the front car had enough of an upward force vector that it ended up at the angle up the platform and escalator. Momentum doesn't explain that, since momentum would be horizontal. But I said before that I'll let the NTSB figure that one out, unless there is an accredited physicist here.

  • In reply to jack:

    Have you ever driven a train Jack?

    I was a Locomotive Hostler and Fireman during the 70's on the C&NW. I drove many looooong multi-loco Freight Transfers from Proviso Yard at Lake St., North Ave. & I-294 in Northlake -- down to Wood St. Yard at 16th and Western (and back).

    I was very well educated on Class I Rail Operation, and not Little Toy Trains like the "L". I'm not an accredited physicist, but I know exactly how trains respond to their controls, and their weight factors -- because I've driven many of them.

  • Let us know where you got your degree in physics. Where did the upper vector come from?

    BTW, when did you move to Lisle?

  • Where did this upper vector come from Jack (the car ends are flat and have anti-climbers): https://encrypted-tbn3.gstatic.com/images?q=tbn:ANd9GcSMXpkpc0hvlVf7vWptV32f2PmSraoNWhe7LzOCw5GscLziTrROYg

    I moved to Lisle 4 yrs ago (to be closer to my BP gas station job), but I just got a beautiful apartment in a very nice residential development:

  • So we see that the savior of Chatham won't even live there himself, nor disclose where he got a physics degree.

    That's it with you.

  • Ilove your communications techniques Jack, you ask questions (then cover your ears so you can ignore the answer). You purposely misinterpret people's words.

    You IGNORE questions: "Have you ever driven a train Jack"?
    Jack answer: "Let us know where you got your degree in physhics"

    It was FOR A REASON I clearly stated: "(to be closer to my BP gas station job)".

    Which YOU promptly took the bait for to come up with some: "So we see that the savior of Chatham w o n ' t even live there himself, nor disclose where he got a physics degree" --

    I am nobody's "savior" you Cocky F'king Racist POS -- I CLEARLY stated WHY I moved to Lisle

    F You Jack.......

  • In reply to jack:

    Did you see the back part of the train push the tank car (which was off the rails) into the back of the Locomotive from "momentum" only -- or did you miss that Jack?

    The same way the rest of the 8-car "L" train forced the first 2 cars up the escalator -- or do you think the WHOLE train comes to a dead stop when the front end hits something??

  • To Jack and Grayline:

    Stop the name-calling NOW! You both have been around here a long time and should know the rules by now.

    Jack, I have to say that you are a master baiter.

  • In reply to Kevin O’Neil:

    Let me assure you that I restrained myself by only saying that this person should be banned, and that I used considerable restraint both in what I addressed to him, and what I really could have said about his 17 years of posts all over the Internet.

    His post wasn't just name calling, it was also projection, his usual charge of racism when he doesn't get his way, and obscenities. That speaks for itself On the other hand, what I said was fact based, although it might have been pointed.

    The warning is not sufficient.

  • I don't mind people who stand up against the door or partition if they get off the train to let people on and off before retaking their position. But I HATE the people who stand up against the pole next to the partition. There's room for at most one person against the window, not two. And leaning up against that pole effectively removes a handhold for another 2-4 people.

    Also, as noted, backpackers totally suck.

  • Let's go over these, wide spread legs man: ok, I see where that is rude, but why would I want to sit where I am not wanted. Screaming cellars: So what, people have had conversations for years, some people happen to have voices louder than others, sometimes this person on the other end can't hear the person, maybe bad reception, Backpacks, I can see where that might be a problem. Strollers, they are wheelchairs, if whelchair riders should be no problem, than strollers should be no problem.. Littering and eating, I can go along with that. Music with earphones, I agree. Standing by the door, very rude. Sick people, I suppose you have never been sick. There is one thing you didn't list, people who sit down next to you, and refuse to take another seat that becomes available where they can be by themselves, and speaking of sitting down next to you, when you want to get off, and all they do is scoot, instead getting and giving byou room to alight. Also, people who get on train before all the passengers alight.

  • In reply to ibilldavis:

    Yeah. There comes a point when there are so few occupied seats that it seems creepy to continue sitting in the outside seat next to someone else. Might as well get up and move at some point when the train isn't lurching, so they won't have to ask you to get up right before they're ready to get off. If there are lots of open seats, the person next to you won't be offended that you're moving. They will appreciate it.

  • fb_avatar

    Don't forget No. 10. ALL OF YOUR OBNOXIOUS MOTHERS!!

    Seriously?! You people live in a city of 2.7 million people, and you're here kvetching about perceived wrongs on PUBLIC transportation. That's right, I said PUBLIC, not reserved for prissy snots like alla youz. [sic] Get over it! What the hell do you expect for a $2.25 ride? Hot towel service? Sheesh! If it's so bad, take a cab, ya cheapskates!

  • In reply to Planxty57:

    Lol. Take a cab? So we can start a list, "9 Most Annoying Things about Riding a Cab"?

    Basically, it appears that 2 generations of people didn't learn the Golden Rule. Yes, we live in a city of 2+ million people, so people have to follow a few basic rules to make life tolerable. The rules are actually very easy. Be conscientious about your surroundings, and don't be a slob. People who hog seats, stick their legs out, and stand in the doorway without moving are probably the same first class A-holes that drive in the left lane blocking traffic behind them, make turns while driving without signalling, block crosswalks or intersections, make right turns while straddling 2 lanes, thus blocking traffic behind, etc, etc, etc. Basically, the world revolves around them.

  • People who smack their young children for talking.

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