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Gapers Block published from April 22, 2003 to Jan. 1, 2016. The site will remain up in archive form. Please visit Third Coast Review, a new site by several GB alumni.
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Tuesday, April 23

Gapers Block

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R / February 14, 2012 10:49 AM

Not that I've been on all of them, but I have a lot of love for the Museum Express bus to Hyde Park, and I have a bittersweet love for the Purple line, as getting to Evanston from Logan Sq in under an hour rocks. If only express trains ran hourly instead of only rush hours...

Monica Reida / February 14, 2012 11:34 AM

I have a fondness for the southbound 146 bus as it gets me to work quickly and peacefully, plus I get a nice view of the lake in the morning. I also like the Brown Line because of the route it takes.

I'd have to give the title of the worst to the 36 bus. Sometimes I have to wait 20+ minutes during rush hour for the bus. And I've seen more fights on that bus than any other CTA route.

Mike / February 14, 2012 12:26 PM

I always get excited when out-of-towners tell me they're flying into Midway instead of Ohare. That trip on the Orange is the best introduction to Chicago.

Brown Line wins for nicest and safest ride, Red Line wins for the opposite. The best bus is the Lawrence bus. Everybody rides that thing. The worst is the 36.

jb / February 14, 2012 12:46 PM

Worst bus, hands down, #82 Kimball Ho-MAN I wish I weren't on this bus.

Best bus? Eh, most other major lines are pretty good, not sure I have a "best".

Worst line? Brown or red, due to slowness and people or slowness and vomit, respectively.

Best line - the blue line! To O'Hare to get in or out of town, and it's blessedly fast again after all that construction.
Mike above does make a good point for the Orange line though, it does have some lovely views.

kelly / February 14, 2012 2:01 PM

My opinions on this have changed since I became pregnant and wouldn't mind a little common courtesy extended to me. I've found so far that the brown line is full of people who will bend-over-backward to offer me a seat. Even on empty trains! It's kind of embarrassing. On the pink line, however, people will barely look up at me, let alone offer me a seat. Luckily this typically isn't an issue since pink isn't crazy busy when I ride it, but still... gotta say I'm not seeing as much kindness in action.

Megan / February 14, 2012 6:46 PM

Honestly? The Blue line smells like piss to me. Like many, I love the Brown line - slow be damned - because it offers such a meandering, beautiful tour through some of my fave neighborhoods. As far as busses go, I tend to hate the #15 (one of my only means to get out of Hyde Park) because it's either late or doesn't show up at all.

fluffy / February 14, 2012 10:30 PM

the Lawrence bus is quite entertaining. A few years ago, when unemployed, I would have to ride it during the middle of the day and all kinds of interesting people get on it. This one drunk or mentally challenged elderly woman kept slapping everyone on the butt as they got off the bus. Even me. She was a regular. Her pants were usually soiled.
I used to ride the pink line and liked it cause it was empty most of the time, but it may have changed.
It's annoying when the red line is extra packed during pm rush hour due to a Cubs game and you've had a 10 hour work-day, are PMSing and just want some booze in you.

maardvark / February 15, 2012 11:13 AM

The worst line in terms of stench is the Red. The cleanest seems to usually be the Purple. (I assume the Yellow is even cleaner, but I've only been on that train twice.) Speed-wise, the Orange seems to move along the best. The Brown Line is poky, but the views are great. In terms of safety, the Green is the sketchiest, and the Brown the least so (again, with the caveat that I don't have much experience on the Yellow). The Blue Line is average in all of these categories.

Buses--I love the 146. I dislike both the 22 and the 36. The rest of the ones I'm familiar with (152, 151, 145, 201, 50, 135, and 11 round out the ones that I've taken more than once) are just sort of average.

Spook / February 15, 2012 12:04 PM

My life resolves around the Blue Line now. But I miss the utilitarianism of the red and the green line. You know, back in The Walley Era- Blue and Cream. Especially during these Byzantium days. You could get them grape chews, 25 for a quarter, hand wrapped in saran wrap. And I mos def use to see them project girls and baby mommas getting them plastic colorful hair barrettes still in the cardboard and plastic. Years ago I once brought two pillows and a comforter from a dude that got on at 35th street and off again at China Town. It lasted me for years! Another time I snagged a box of dark ocean blue china cups, bowls, and plates that I still got today. I brought my first Roots C.D. on the red. They was selling all kinds of stuff, but as soon as the the train arrived at 55th and Garfield, all sales generally ceased, for obvious reasons. They even sold them looses! I also remember those three card monte hustlers on the Green line, "show da money show da money, I know you got sixteen kids, it don't costs nothing to watch here we go eeny, meeny, miny moe, watch where the red nine go, you win on black but you lose on dat, if you don't see it don't do it here, we go...." Yea those were the days, but "they" ruined all that. Talk about killing the economy!

Michelle / February 15, 2012 1:31 PM

When I lived in Ravenswood, I used to love the 145. From downtown to practically my front door in one bus trip. I was usually the last one on the bus, by the end of the line, and one of the bus drivers would sing songs in Spanish once most of the riders had cleared out.
Unfortuantely, it doesn't go all the way to Lawrence and Damen anymore.

BG / February 16, 2012 9:06 AM

As far as trains go, the brown line is the safest, cleanest ride. The green line is interesting but scary and the red line smells like piss but it's always there when you need it.

Luckily, I don't have to use the bus to commute so the routes I like are the ones with the best people watching. The 36 Broadway bus (whether it's heading north or south) is always full of characters. I also like riding the Cicero Ave. buses 54 and 54B to get a view of the city that I don't see every day. The 54B also stops at Hawthorne Racecourse in Cicero/Stickney.

Sarah / February 17, 2012 9:48 AM

Someone once wistfully said to me that the brown line smells like lilacs. While I haven't experienced this olfactory sensation myself I can say that my commute-related stress has been cut in half since I moved from a Red Line stop to a Brown Line stop.

Mike / February 17, 2012 3:01 PM

Last night on the Red Line, I got to hear the words "bitch," "shit," and "motherfucker" yelled all anti-socially about a hundred times between Roosevelt and Chicago. Then, from around Belmont to where I got off at Thorndale, I got to hear a guy on his cell telling a friend loudly about how he and another friend almost fucked up some GDs but he didn't want to go back to County.

Mateo / February 17, 2012 9:29 PM

Orange line is my favorite train, hands down. Red is my least favorite, especially on the weekend. I feel like I'm going to get puked on, and WHY IS EVERYONE ALWAYS SCREAMING!?

I'm still lamenting the loss of the X49, so now I'd have to say my favorite bus is the 14. Least favorite bus... maybe the 66, or the 18 just because it stops running at like 4:30.

paul / February 19, 2012 2:37 PM

The Metra.

After the price increase this month, I thought I'd go back and try the purple/red again and was subjected to pee, vomit, a 'police action' and a 20 minute wait at Howard all on the same commute.

c / February 20, 2012 9:02 AM

hell no @ the metra. they pipe in harsh diesel smoke into the train through the air vents like once every 20 minutes. i dont see how they can get away with that.

Spook / February 20, 2012 6:33 PM


That's the problem with modern day American culture. No one is interested in shared stories in public spaces and the one you were preivy to had teachable moments. Who knew that the county was a
deterrent? And now all Gapers Blockers know not to F*ck up any GDs least we find ourselves at County.All that information and all for free!

Mike / February 20, 2012 10:17 PM

I'd argue that "modern American culture" has devolved to "assholes broadcasting their lives in public places where most people just want to get the hell home from work without hearing too much information from the degenerates they're sharing the train with." But, yeah, it was a "teaching moment" I guess. My 2,745th on the Red Line.

By the way, I switch to the Brown on many mornings and get the passive aggressive entitlement and jagoff douches in square toed shoes practically knocking me down the stairs so they can "win" the "race" to the sidewalk too. I guess I just wish everybody's just keep their voices down and be remotely civil.

Keep on keepin' on, Spook.

"Truman college, study hard."

"State and Lake, love you too."

paul / February 21, 2012 8:46 AM

c, I'd rather sit behind the stack of a coal driven train then smell what's on the el.

At least on the North line, you're far enough away from the engine that Metra diesel isn't an issue, and inbound trains get pushed, so it's at the back.

Carlotta / February 22, 2012 1:30 PM

Best el line: the Brown Line, for what's already been said. Plus, sometimes I snag one of those individual seats from time to time (enjoying it while I can before we're all forced on those new cattle cars). I can appreciate the Orange Line, too.

Worst el line: the Blue Line. Waiting on one of its many platforms in the middle of an expressway is alienating.

Best bus line: the #134. I get on at its start point, ensuring a seat in morning rush hour. It provides lovely lake views and gets me downtown quickly, practically in front of my workplace.

Worst bus line: #74 Fullerton. Late, bunched up buses, crowded.

Brandy / February 23, 2012 8:51 AM

I have been and always will be a Red Line gal, despite its flaws. The Blue Line always bothered me because it's so much noisier (not the passengers, but the cars themselves). The #147 zooming down LSD reminds be of taking a field trip bus into the city when I was a kid. The #36 is The Land of Misfit Toys.

Spook / February 23, 2012 3:32 PM


I guess it means NOTHING to your non literary soul, that Studs Terkel had his ashes scattered from out of a brown paper bag onto the floor of the last car of a Red Line Train by non other than Mike Royko!

Now go put THAT in your square toed shoes shine box!

The Great Studs Terkel! Do you even know who he was!!!!!??????!!!!!!

Mike / February 23, 2012 6:17 PM

I love Studs! That's cool that Royko was brought back from the dead to do that!

vise77 / February 24, 2012 8:33 AM

Brown Line, for most of the reasons cited above--too damn old for the crap on the Red Line, though a part of me still considers is the best neighborhood in the city.

Spook: Perhaps I am a non-literary soul, but are you saying Royko was a zombie, then? If so, I guess we learn things every day.

Spook / February 26, 2012 11:16 AM

Tut tut,tut! Did I say Royko?


I meant Charles Bukowski! Who was not only a much better writer than Royko, who actually favored the Brown Line.

In fact, Bukowski was chosen by Studs because when ever Bukowski visited Chicago, he took the Red Line( he called it the "People's Train") down to the south side to visit his favorite spot, Gerri's Palm Tavern!

My bad for the mix up!

Yarborough Buzzard / February 29, 2012 6:38 PM

By far the cleanest, safest, and most pleasant station on the entire CTA is the Green Line Ashland/63 stop. From the melodious tones of the hammer dulcimer player to the friendly riders this is a fantastic Chicago experience.

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