By Tracy Swartz @tracyswartz
3:33 PM CDT, October 8, 2012
In with the cold, out with the dew. Commuters are used to the October swap of flip-flops for tall boots and light cardigans for puffy coats, but this year's annual switch comes with a twist.
On the rail side, the controversial rail cars with the aisle facing seats have been introduced on the Green and Pink lines and they are scheduled to debut in November on the Red Line.
Riders have long complained that the rows of seats are not favorable to those wearing multiple layers or carrying extra baggage for holiday travel.
Meanwhile, thousands of bus riders may have to change their commutes when bus route cuts go into effect in mid-December.
To honor the arrival of Chicago's first chilly conditions, Going Public presents a cold weather guide so you can have a chill ride this winter.
Stay on track on rail: The CTA has tested the rail cars with the aisle-facing seats in winters past but only one line at a time. The true test will come this November on the Red Line, the backbone of the CTA.
Commuters will have to figure out how to juggle their coats and/or backpacks and purses and still stay within the width of their seats. Also, riders may have to get creative with their luggage.
The Orange Line, which serves Midway, is not scheduled to get the new rail cars until after the Red Line.
The Blue Line, which serves O'Hare, won't get the new rail cars at all. The line will get hand-me-down cars from other lines. The CTA said that in the meantime, it is phasing out the Blue Line cars with the accordion doors that are not accessible for riders with wheelchairs or large luggage.
But there will be some relief for most rail riders in mid-December, when more trips are added on every rail line but the Pink and Yellow lines. The CTA said these additions mean fewer riders cramming onto the trains.
If there are fewer riders, it won't probably feel as warm as train crowding sometimes can feel. There will be more space for riders to take off their coats and hold onto them. Just remember—a coat is not a person. It does not deserve its own seat.
Avoid the fuss on the bus: And while riders on the train enjoy more space this winter, some bus riders will have to change their commute with the season. More than a dozen full and partial bus routes will see elimination in mid-December, the CTA board voted last month.
Alternative transportation options can be found at transitchicago.com. And while some buses will be cut, 48 routes will see more trips to ease crowding there.
It's a good thing too, since an overcrowded bus can feel like a heat incubator. Though it may be tempting to open a window to let the cool air in, don't.
Buses are programmed to maintain a temperature of 68 degrees in the winter. If the bus seems too cold or too hot, let the bus driver know or note the bus number and contact the CTA at transitchicago.com/contact.
El-evate your run
The CTA is selling Chicago running performance shirts in honor of the Chicago Marathon. The black shirts, which have the tag line "Run like 'L'," cost $28 on ctagifts.com.
A weekly dispatch from a CTA station of note
This week: Western Orange Line
This Gage Park station isn't known for the Orange Line, it's known for its grey. The walls along the stairwells on the way to the station's platform look like a much-used white board: They have been scrubbed of graffiti and then recovered in street art. Though the platform is generally free of tags, save for art on some ads, riders can see graffiti on the sides of the neighboring railroad.
Next up: Addison Red LineWant more? Discuss this article and others on RedEye's Facebook page.
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