It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas transit. Shopping bags are filling train seats, and buses are crawling along high-traffic shopping corridors. To keep you in good cheer, Going Public has devised a December transit road map so you can have happy haul-idays.

>> That new iPhone is cool and all, but I'm a gonna have to stop you from pulling it out on the train. Thieves are watching for distracted riders. Watch your bags, especially at transit stops near stores with pricey products such as the North/Clybourn stop (Apple store) and State/Lake (Macy's).

>> If you're in a hurry, try to avoid express buses that travel State Street in the Loop and North Michigan Avenue. Buses are slowed by taxis that stop in the right lane to pick up passengers with multiple bags. Use train service when possible.

>> Keep your spirits up by visiting the CTA's annual holiday train. There are only seven days left to ride the bedazzled train this year. Follow the CTA's Twitter account (@cta) for up-to-the-minute train location and delays. At some stops, lines form early for the train, so factor that into your timing.

>> Buy your transit cards before you get to the station. The line for cards can be longer this time of the year thanks to confused tourists. This is especially the case at the Midway and O'Hare stops.

>> Set a good example for a smoother ride. Trains can seem more crowded than they are because riders are wearing bulky coats and accessories. Don't put your bags and coats on a seat if a rider wants to sit down. Also, be careful when swinging bags so you don't hit other riders.

>> Although they can be annoying and slow travel, please help the tourists out with directions. 'Tis the season for good will and good "L."

Transit challenge

The votes have been tallied and the winner of the Apps For Metro Chicago Grand Challenge contest is... not going to be announced until Friday. The challenge pits the top apps from the community and transit rounds against 10 new entries. Prizes are awarded to developers based on civic value, functionality and creativity. Some of the transit apps in the running are:

>> Taxi Share Chicago: You can find others going to your destination and share a cab with them.

>> Wasmycartowed.com Find out if your car has been towed.

>> What's Driving Costing You Chicago: Compute your fuel costs, vehicle emissions and other factors to see how much it costs you to drive in the city.

Track the holiday train

The CTA holiday train will travel Wednesday, Friday and Saturday on the Red Line and Thursday and Saturday on the Purple Line. Go to redeyechicago.com/holidaytrain to upload your holiday train snaps.

RIDER'S BLOCK

My pledge to ride every CTA bus line continues. I rode the No. 81W-West Lawrence last week and boiled my review down to a tweet.

@tracyswartz 23 mins from Jefferson Park to Cumberland Blue Line. Gives the Blue Line a run for its money on speed. Goes thru Harwood Heights, Norridge.

137 routes down, 2 to go!

Next up: No. 54A-North Cicero/Skokie Blvd.