Riders standing in a CTA train entryway

Riders standing in a CTA train entryway (Chicago Tribune file photo / January 7, 2013)

Now that the holidays are over and more Chicagoans are returning to work, this week will be the first major test of the service changes the CTA implemented last month to reduce crowds on the buses and trains. Finally we'll see where crowding stands—literally.

Going Public has noticed some easing on buses and trains since the CTA added service to 48 bus routes and all but two train lines last month. There have been more seats available and more space to move around in the aisles—and yet, some riders still stand in the space by the doors.

Nicholas Epley, a University of Chicago professor of behavioral science who has studied rider interaction on Metra trains, said some commuters have "stranger anxiety" and prefer to stand rather than sit next to another rider.

"There is some discomfort sitting cheek to jowl with a stranger," said Epley, who rides Metra and not the CTA. "Our research suggests that anxiety is misplaced.  Our participants enjoyed commuting more when they talked to strangers than when they sat alone."

It could also be that some riders stand in the doorways instead of sit in the train and bus seats because they are wearing winter coats and don't want to squeeze into a seat. One of the top complaints that GP receives about the new rail cars with the aisle-facing seats is that the seats are too narrow.

Whatever the reason, if riders want to stand on a bus or train when a seat is available, they should spread out into the aisles of the train or move to the back of the bus. Standing in the doorway slows the boarding and exiting process, which makes everyone late.

 

Let's take a deal

The holidays are over, but Groupon still is offering a gift to CTA riders. The site continues to sell a three-day unlimited pass, regularly $14, for $9. The CTA will raise the price of three-day passes next week to $20 as part of its fare hikes to unlimited passes. Riders may only purchase four of the Groupon passes, which can be used through Sept. 1.

 

The eyes have it

The No-Pants Subway Ride, a New York City improv group's cheeky spin on public transportation, will take place from noon to 3 p.m. Sunday in Chicago and other major U.S. cities. Go to facebook.com/groups/Nopantschicago for more information.

 

Stationary

A weekly dispatch from a CTA station of note

This week: 95th Red Line

The end of the line is ready for new beginnings. This South Side station will see major changes during the next few years. In May, the station will shut down for five months as the CTA overhauls Red Line track south of Roosevelt Road. After that project is over, the CTA will begin work on upgrading the station, a necessary step before the agency can extend the Red Line south of 95th Street. The station is expected to remain open as work is completed over the next few years. The CTA will hold a public hearing on the project's environmental impact in the spring, and complete design for the terminal is anticipated this fall or winter.

Next up: O'Hare Blue Line

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