Why More People Need to Speak Up On the CTA

Yesterday on my commute home from work I was making my usual transfer from Red to Purple at the Fullerton stop and an older lady hops on at last second and asks me in her hurry, “this is the Purple Line right?” I advised her it was; she smiled gratefully and thanked me.

It really made me realize how rare it is to encounter someone with notable people skills on the El. I don’t know if it’s just because interaction among other riders is not something that is typically necessary, or if when it is it’s because something is wrong, or the train is overly crowded (shocker), but people are not just unhappy on the El. I’d go as far as saying they can be genuinely unkind. This isn’t really a bold or shocking statement but it makes me wonder, why?

Are people bitter because they have access to mass transit? That they can afford to not have to walk to where they need to be? Or especially, directed towards those with a steady job and comfortable life, that you don’t live life day to day on the CTA? Why is it that this demographic can be one which is so displeasing to interact? That question draws me away from my initial point but is nonetheless a good thought to ponder alongside – just be sure you’re humbled enough to realize it can be worse than commuting to work on the CTA.

My real point is that people on the CTA are rarely spotted being good samaritans to one another and it’s incredibly sad.

I can’t even tell you how many times I hear “chivalry isn’t dead” and then later that week see a guy taking a seat right from under my nose on the train or bus. To be fair to the CTA buses, I do feel like the chivalry and just plain common courtesy is a little more prevalent on there than the trains for whatever reason, but is by no means magical.

The worst example I have actually been a part of included someone getting stuck in the train door as it was closing at the Diversey stop: The girl was hopping on at last second and her bag and I believe a part of her arm was caught in the doors as they closed. I was holding on to the pole near the door, with a girl leaning against the glass right next to the doorway playing on her phone. No headphones, just texting or likely playing Candy Crush is my guess. The other girl who was clearly stuck in the door struggling to get on was frantic, as anyone in her position would be, so I reach over to help pull her bag out of the door and in a burst of adrenaline I must have bumped the oblivious/ignorant girl playing on her phone and her phone dropped. As I’m trying to help the girl in to the train and am successful in doing so she picks up her phone and lets out a big sigh of relief that her phone is okay. No concern that a human being was stuck in a moving train’s doors. I of course apologized to the girl for bumping her phone out of her hands but she still made no mention of the poor girl who was just getting herself collected and inside the train car.

This is where the CTA ridership morale is at right now: iPhone > passengers

To be fair, the girl stuck in the door did not really ask for help, but you’d think it should be human instinct to look up from your cell phone for long enough to help someone out in need.

What can the CTA do to increase morale of their ridership? Is it even the CTA’s fault the riders are so angry and closed off? More people need to speak up about what is causing such misery in their commute because if the CTA is even a semi-reputable company they would be willing to listen and consider ideas/concerns of their customers. Please let me know your thoughts and opinions because I, myself am at a loss.

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