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Navigating the CTA during the World Series madness

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People living in Chicago know the rarity of the Cubs in the World Series.  They also know the usual pace of the Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) during rush hour.

Now combine these two and what you get is excitement and thrill followed by slow moving, cramped and, in some cases, urine-smelling transportation.

DePaul students commuting to and from school during this time are always looking for ways to deal with these Cub-fanatic trains and get to their destination as soon as possible.

Some students have developed their own method of avoiding these trains.

Senior Adam Chalifoux said he has certain techniques for getting around crowds, whether he’s going to class or heading home to Wrigleyville.

“I always try and take the Brown Line by default, because it doesn’t smell like urine. But even then it gets pretty packed, like how the Red Line does,” he said. “When the Cubs are playing, a lot of people get off at Southport, (which is) my stop because it’s only a few blocks from Wrigley Field.” 

Chalifoux said this is a strategy he sees others using when it comes to avoiding the Addison Red Line stop during Cubs games.

“It can get really congested if people are getting on and off the train in that area, but it clears up so much once your past that,” he said. “If you want to avoid getting wedged between two random people who may not particularly smell well, I’d recommend taking the Brown Line.”

Students who live on campus may not struggle as much as those living off-campus when taking the CTA. Yet those commuting from the Lincoln Park and Loop campuses for class may still find it hard to avoid the Cubs frenzy and the CTA trains and buses that slow down because of it.

Sophomore Emma Day said she relies more on trains than buses when commuting between campuses.

“I’m scared to take the bus system, because I hear it’s pretty complicated,” Day said. “It’s on a set (route), this is the route it’s (going to) go, it’s either above ground or below ground. The bus system, I know it’s not 100 percent always on time. I know the ‘L’ has its days but, for the most part you know what intervals it’s (going to) come at.”

Day added she prefers the comparative cleanliness of the ‘L’ trains.

“I think the ‘L’ may be a little cleaner,” she said. “I know the Brown Line isn’t as new as the Red Line, but at least it’s not as gross. There is an obvious difference between taking the Brown Line as opposed to taking the Red Line.”

Day also said she has ways of avoiding heavy rush hours and getting around slow CTA times during sporting events.

“I feel people think the Red Line is faster than the Brown Line,” she said. “I just think the ‘L’ is busy for any sporting event going on.  I was in Wrigley when the Cubs won the game to get into the World Series. They had CTA workers letting only a few individuals through the guardrails at a time so the platform didn’t overload. It made it a lot easier for people to get on the train, but it backed up the entrance of the station a lot.”

CTA public affairs spokeswoman Irene Ferradaz explained CTA protocol on events such as the Cubs games.

“As CTA does with many major events, we will have extra staff at our rail stations to assist with (an) expected high volume of customers,” Ferradaz said in a written statement. “On the Red Line, additional train service will be provided leading up to (the) first pitch through the end of the game.”

She added that train service between Howard and Skokie was extended until 2 a.m. on the Yellow Line.  Additional bus service on the 80 Irving Park and the 152 Addison was available starting about three hours before the game begins, and there was extra service available after the game for about one hour.

Ferradaz also gave her tips on how to avoid such a traffic jam on CTA trains and buses.

“We encourage customers to plan ahead and buy transit fare or load their Ventra cards well in advance to decrease travel time and avoid long lines at rail station vending machines,” she said.

No matter how packed the trains and buses are during the Cubs season, there are always ways to avoid being trapped by the crowds, herded away onto the train hoping to get home on time. 

Whichever way people prefer to reach their final destination, taking advice from fellow students as well as CTA officials is always helpful.  This is especially true during a time where the CTA and riders anticipate a party and a loss of time never seen before.

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Navigating the CTA during the World Series madness