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145 'L' stops. No bathroom breaks.

Some riders find taking a CTA train just a few stops to work every day a challenge because of slow zones and crowds. Imagine taking the train to 145 stops in one day.

Last week, Going Public did just that by completing the "L" Challenge--consecutively visiting all 145 CTA stations by train--in nine hours and 17 minutes.

During the trip, which began at the 95th Red Line stop and ended at the 54th/Cermak Pink Line stop, GP swiped her CTA card nine times, ate six protein bars (not on the train) and took no bathroom breaks.

Along the way, this reporter also saw the new Oakton-Skokie Yellow Line station, experienced persistent Purple Line slow zones and encountered a Chicago police officer who seemed skeptical of the feat.

Fewer than a dozen other transit enthusiasts have told GP they also have completed the challenge, which was popularized by a Briton who finished a similar activity on New York's subway system. The Guinness Book of World Records recognizes New York's challenge.

Though there is no official clearinghouse for records on the CTA and no official rule book, there is one major guideline for the "L" Challenge: Only public transportation and travel by foot between stops is allowed. Participants cannot bike, taxi or drive from station to station.

Much of the journey was smooth--but traveling between the East 63rd and the Ashland branches on the Green Line required a trip on the No. 63rd bus to the Halsted stop and a Green Line ride to the 63rd/Ashland stop.

As the train pulled into the Ashland station in West Englewood, a No. 63 bus to Midway Airport on the Orange Line also was arriving. This reporter ran to catch the bus, drawing the attention of a Chicago police officer, who asked if everything was OK.

The Purple Line was the most disappointing part of the trip. During rush hour, GP had to wait 10 minutes for a northbound Purple Line train and 13 minutes for a southbound train.

And even though the CTA recently improved Purple Line viaducts in Evanston, the slow zones remain on the northern part of the line because of track conditions. The CTA said these zones will be addressed in future work, which has no scheduled start date.

Hopefully the agency will address the all-but-forgotten Circle Line, which would connect the lines outside the Loop. The line would help ease the transition between stations for riders completing their daily commute or those looking to circle the "L" Challenge for their bucket list.

Go to redeyechicago.com/goingpublic for photos from GP's journey.

The sipster line

Caffentures, a caffeine activity group, is hosting a Blue Line coffee crawl at 9 a.m. Saturday. Riders will sample various coffees along the route. Tickets are $30 at caffentures.com.

Stationary

A weekly dispatch from a CTA station of note

This week: Diversey Brown/Purple Line stop

The Diversey stop in Lincoln Park is on display … almost. CTA president Forrest Claypool said earlier this month that all 145 CTA stations would have a Train Tracker display within the next year. The Diversey station has two electronic displays on the southern end of its southbound platform but they weren't displaying train arrival information or ads Monday afternoon. Hopefully the CTA will soon keep Diversey riders in the loop about Loop trains.

Next up: Sox/35th Red Line stop.

tswartz@tribune.com

 

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