Chicago’s famous “L” trains are convenient for residents and visitors alike, providing over half a million rides everyday. Though urban transit sometimes gets a bad reputation, it’s actually quite safe, especially when users remain attentive. Following are some tips regarding safety on CTA rail lines in Chicago.
Safety on CTA Rail Lines: Know Your Resources
– Stations are always staffed. The attitude and competence of CTA employees can really vary, but most of the customer assistants and train operators are helpful and responsive.
– Every car is outfitted with a radio link to the train operator so that you can communicate in the event of an problem. Take note of where the “operator call” button is located on the wall of the car. If you need to report something like a physical altercation between riders (it happens!), an abandoned package, etc., the train operator can ensure that the matter gets addressed – usually at the next stop.
– Every platform on CTA rail lines is equipped with similar button, except this button notifies the customer assistant. Reasons to use this button include: abandoned packages, medical emergencies, items dropped onto tracks, suspicious activity, physical altercations, etc.
– Program 911 into your cell phone along with the CTA number: 1-888-YOUR-CTA.
– If you don’t own a cell phone, you can dial 911 for free or reach CTA customer service by pressing *1 from platform pay phones.
Safety on CTA Rail Lines: Pickpocketing and Theft
– Don’t “zone out” with your iPod or immerse yourself so deeply in reading that you stop paying attention to the passengers around you.
– Carry your wallet in a safe location. Instead of your back pocket, consider a front pocket, the inside of a jacket, etc.
– Carry your transit card (whichever one you use) it in a holder with your keys or on a different part of your body than your wallet. That way, you don’t have to futz with your actual wallet when entering the station or making a transfer.
– Get a Chicago Card or a Chicago Card Plus. Because these are registered and can be deactivated if lost of stolen, you’ll have some extra peace of mind – just in case something does happen.
Safety on CTA Rail Lines: Panhandlers / Peddlers
– Don’t give money to panhandlers and don’t buy anything from peddlers, as it just encourages the habit. But don’t be rude or hostile either…because that may trigger unpleasant verbal exchanges and may, although it’s rare, provoke violence.
– As with any major transit system, a number of homeless and/or mentally ill people ride the CTA rail lines. Usually, there’s nothing to worry about, so don’t mind eccentric behavior and leave these folks alone. If anything, let yourself be mildly entertained by the diversity of quirks.
– Don’t participate in the shell game, a specific type of swindle used to part the unsavvy with a wager. Whatever the nature of a “game” being played on the CTA rail lines, don’t participate.
Safety on CTA Rail Lines: Other Tips
– Stand back several feet from the platform edge when waiting for trains. It’s as much about protecting yourself as it is about preventing something like your cell phone from accidentally ending up on the tracks, butterfingers.
– Don’t descend onto the tracks (duh!); it doesn’t matter what you’ve dropped.
– Pay attention to where you’re walking. Although people aren’t supposed to eat on the CTA, they do – and that means the everything from the proverbial banana peel to spilled soda can be found on platforms, inside stations, and on trains. More than a few people slip and fall each week on or around CTA rail lines.
– Don’t run for the train. As they say, “there’ll always be another train, but there’ll never be another you.”
– Hold onto the darn rails. Every now and then, some too-cool tourist on a SRO train decides that he’s going to post himself wide-legged in the aisle without holding onto anything (and yes, it’s usually a guy). These people often learn the hard way by falling or semi-falling, so: a) don’t be that person and b) watch out for this person, who can suddenly end up in your lap. I know, because my lap once received a surprise visit from the face of a husky man who was too cool to hold onto anything.
– Don’t learn against the doors. This should be obvious, but I take nothing for granted.
Safety on CTA Rail Lines: Final Thought
The CTA is a safe community resource for the people of Chicago and the city’s millions of visitors. As long as riders exercise basic caution, use common sense, and know about resources, CTA rail lines provide an excellent transportation option.