Key etiquette rules for picking your spot in CTA cars with aisle-facing seats

Copy of Series 5000 rail car seatsVeteran riders of the fairly new CTA 5000 Series rail cars know that spacing yourself in the aisle-facing seats is very important.

So for those of you who may not ride very often, here’s a primer on proper spacing in the much-maligned seating.

  1. On an empty car, pick the last seat at the far end of the car. It’s the only seat that offers any elbow room since there’s a gap at the end. You can even put your bag there.
  2. As the car fills, you always leave a gap seat if possible between you and your neighbor.
  3. When just single seats are available, you pick the one next to the skinny person.
  4. If the single seat that is open is between two big people, most people don’t want to sit down. But I’m one of those people who will, so watch out. However, I am considerate enough to lean forward and push my shoulders next to yours.
  5. On your commute home as folks exit, if you’re seated next to someone you have to move if you see three empty seats in a row.

These are some simple rules that will make yours – and others’ – commute more comfortable.

But what have I forgotten? Add your own rules in comments.

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    If you are standing in the isle in the middle of the car, standing facing fore or aft, not sideways, keeps seated passengers from having to stare at your behind or crotch.

  • In reply to Seth:

    This x10.

  • In reply to Seth:

    No, sorry, but facing forward/backward means I spend the entire trip trying not to fall on my face/ass. Standing sideways, with legs about shoulder width means I have reasonable balance, and can even spare a hand to read.

  • For the aisle facing seats on the 5000 cars, is taking every second seat the most courteous behavior? Or are there better alternatives?

    The center section has seven aisle facing seats. If the first person takes a seat at the end of the row (as you suggest in Step 1), and each successive person leaves one empty seat between herself and the previous person, the row accomidates four (4) people comfortably before gap filling begins. The three (3) people filling in gaps between two already seated passengers often (as you do) lean forward to accomidate Chicagoans' big shoulders.


    However, if each person were to leave two empty seats between herself and the previous person, passenger packing allows five (5) people to have no more than one adjacent seated person. Then only the last two people are forced to lean forward


    Which sitting scheme does proper etiquette call for?

  • The proper thing is to demand from any candidate for mayor that if elected, their first move will be to get rid of these seats & make them like the 2600s.
    Use TIF money to do it & find out which pile of $%^& ordered this & hang them!

  • In reply to ScooterLibbby:

    1. Since it was in the Kruesi administration (2006), Frank would ultimately be responsible, but I hear that he is well hung.

    2. From what I read about the mayoral race, this is not on the top of the priorities of the Fioretti and Lewis campaigns. There is stuff like like schools, Homicide Watch Chicago, and how can we tax someone else to avoid a tripling of property taxes when the pension bill comes due.

    3. On the main post, CTA and etiquette is an oxymoron.

  • In reply to ScooterLibbby:

    Now now. Let's be humane. Stocks in Daley Plaza while the weather is still warm, and rotten vegetables, nice soft ones.

  • In reply to CCWriter:

    Forget humane. In tribute to the girl whose parents complained that she was dumped off a Metra train at Jefferson Park, just dump them off at 63-Ashland or 79th some where between the L station and Jeffery and let them fend for themselves.

  • Sitting down is overrated.

  • In reply to ibilldavis:

    Especially because either there is a pool of urine or someone who used to be in the Hobo Corner now is sprawled over about 5 longitudinal seats.

  • In reply to ibilldavis:

    Maybe for some people it is. Not for everyone.

  • It doesn't matter. Seats or no seats sheeple always huddle by the doors and block people coming in and out. On account of they are afraid.

  • In reply to Petrd1:

    Yeah, this is annoying. Are people afraid they won't get off the train when it stops? I never understood the reasoning.

  • In reply to chris:

    Are you thinking of when people camp out in the door area for the whole trip, even when there's a reasonable amount of room all around? Sometimes there are two of them flanking the door and narrowing down the space to get on and off.

    It's not reasoning. It's that they feel it's their own private compartment. Nobody else counts, so the people needing to get on or off can be disregarded. I make a point of saying "excuse us!" when squeezing past, even though they may not hear me.

  • My rules:

    1) Look for a forward/backward facing seat. If there's one available, sit in it. Even if the occupant of the next seat is hogging it with their bag or leg and pretending not to be aware.
    2) If there is none, sit in a side facing seat only if there's a stretch of 3 or more. preferably one on the end.
    3) If neither of the above is available, switch to the next car at the next stop (never via the end doors).
    4) If there still is none, wait for another train.

    The advice about when to get up and move also holds good for the old kind of car. If you're the outer person in a pair of seats. and there are one or more pairs of empty seats nearby. it verges on creepy to leave the inside person trapped. No, they won't feel offended if you move; they'll understand it's to leave them free to get off at their stop without having to ask you, on short notice, to get up.

  • In reply to CCWriter:

    Totally agree about moving to a different set of seats when there's one empty -- this happens to me on the bus and pushes me toward claustrophobia/an anxiety attack. I have once or twice gone so far as to gather my things and tell the person in the outer seat, "Excuse me," as I would if I were exiting, and then go sit in the empty row. My only worry is that they might just get up and move to that empty row, and then I'm left feeling stupid. (Feeling stupid is better than an anxiety attack, probably, but it still gives me pause.)

  • In reply to villafan:

    Fear of feeling stupid is what criminals and other sketchy people count on, when trying to manipulate you.

    If they did get up and move to the empty row only after you took initiative to do so yourself--there is no need to feel stupid. They're probably feeling a little embarrassed themselves that they didn't think of it sooner. You don't have to explain yourself.

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