16 March 2009

Public transportation pet peeves

By: Jessica B.

The CTA (Chicago Transit Authority) is my main source of transportation in the city. Now that I’ve been car-less for four years and try to use cabs only when absolutely necessary, there is a certain amount of adjusting that happens when you rely on public transport.

For example, you “plan” your trips so you can maximize your time out and about. If I go out for the ATM, I also swing by the store and grab a paper too or only got to the ATM when I’m leaving for dinner. If I want to go somewhere on public transportation, I plan on it taking about 30 minutes because, well most trips anywhere in the city take at least that.
But along with these more minor changes, there are certain other things you have to allow for, like the unusual things you notice on the bus, which inevitably begin to irritate you, such as:
  • Cuddlers – If you really cannot stand to be physically separated, I recommend going back to bed. Then you won’t tickle my gag reflex
  • Loud talkers – This includes personal conversations and people on cell phones. One woman was speaking so loud on her cell phone that I could hear her over my iPod, which was IN my ears. Indoor voices!
  • Mistaking the bus for home – It drives me insane when people feel the need to stretch out the morning newspaper on a packed bus. I also enjoy stretching out with the newspaper…at my home. I don’t need half of the Times’ Business section stretched over me, thanks
  • Excessive PDA – Much like cuddling, I don’t need to watch you swap spit and feel each other up. I have Cinemax for that :)
  • Space hogs – I am guilty of this too, but it’s an unspoken rule that when the bus fills up, you move your bag from the seat next to you so others can sit down. Yes, it’s not as much fun, but it’s necessary. People who don’t do that are rude
  • Bumper cars – Eek, another thing I’m guilty of, but I really try to avoid this. This includes having people collide into you with their oversize purses or bags. If I had a nickel for every time I was hit in the shoulder or head by a purse, I could pay off my student loan. And one time, after a chick hit me multiple times in the head with her Puma bag, I pulled out a pen and made a mark on the white leather portion of the bag. Burning in hell, I know
  • Personal space issue – I don’t really have an issue with this, but after having some guy caress my butt on a packed bus once, I get very nervous when I’m packed in. Especially if the person sandwiched next to or behind me hasn’t showered or reeks of cigarettes. That is the worst!
Well those are the top things that irritate me. I may complain, but the CTA still provides me with transportation and provides me with lots of fun stories :)
What are your public transportation pet peeves? Or do you have any great CTA/public transportation stories to share?
Oh and feel free to let me know how glad you are that you don’t have to take public transportation because you have a car. I miss my car and I love driving when I go home, but my stories are never quite as interesting as in the city.


  1. Anonymous says:

    why the f*** is like everyone ppsting here a chick!?!?

  2. Katie cat says:

    he he, so what did you think of NY’s public transportation? Better or worse? Here it’s wise just to walk everywhere that you possibly can…

  3. A Oh Dub says:

    OMG, I take BART (The SF/Bay Area version of the El) every day to work and people constantly annoy me for all of the reasons you listed and more! It’s like don’t get that public transportation is just like real life and they can’t do whatever they want. Idiots.

  4. Miss Grace says:

    DO NOT get me started. My personal least favorites are people who ignore all my social cues (i.e. headphones) and try to talk to me, and people who get all up in Gabriel’s face when we’re on the bus together.

  5. Katelin says:

    living in so cal i am such a public transit novice. i never know what the heck to do when i go to the east coast, haha.

  6. Winter is the WORST. Big poofy coats. Big bags full of crap.

    Being a teeny tiny person, I generally get the feeling like I am going to suffocate on the trains. It is NOT GOOD.

    Also not good? People who “spill over” onto the second seat/person sitting in the second seat. Ewwww.

  7. Kate says:

    Holy crap, I could go on for DAYS about my CTA peeves. One of the most annoying things is when people place their bags on a free seat during rush hour and act like you’re inconveniencing THEM when you ask to sit down. Once, a man had placed an empty backpack in the seat next to him (it was completely flat … there’s no way it had anything inside). A woman asked if she could sit down and the man looked her right in the eyes and said, “This is a wish seat. You WISH you could sit here.” And would not move the backpack.

    Clearly, sometimes people who look mentally competent turn out not to be.

  8. stealthnerd says:

    Just last week I wrote about the MTA pissing me off (yet again)! Public transportation is just chock full of pet peeves. But I love that marker trick…I’ll remember that one for the future.

  9. Ginger says:

    As an extension to mistaking the bus for your home:

    Performing personal hygeine on transit! Several times now I’ve seen people CUTTING THEIR NAILS on the subway, or applying makeup, etc. etc. and it’s disgusting.

    Maybe I could get over the makeup, but cutting your nails? Srsly?!!?

  10. Jamie says:

    Me too, Me too, Me too!! Enough said!

  11. A Super Girl says:

    I wish we had public transit in Detroit. We’re so sprawled out I wish I didn’t have to drive everywhere to get where I’m going.

    I guess we do have busses, but they scare me in all settings — big city or small town. I actually got lost taking a bus in my old college town. For some reason, my brain isn’t wired for bus routes.

    However, if they are reliable and integrated with other forms of public transit that are slightly easier to navigate such as your lovely El (hey, like I said, when you have nothing, anything is lovely!), or a subway of some sort, then I’m totally ready to give up my car.

    I think. :-)

  12. abstika says:

    I have a sweet CTA story. I was on a relatively deserted car on the red line once going home from grad school. There was me, another girl on her cell phone, and some guy. A falling down drunk guy gets on and is talking to himself (classic CTA). He decides to sit next me. He smelled awful and was clearly in liver failure because he was very jaundice. He starts telling me how innocent my eyes look, etc. Then tries to involve the girl on the phone in the converstation. When we both ignore him, he pulls out a foot-tall incredible hulk action figure and begins talking to me through the doll. At the next stop, he puts his doll away and exits the train. The guy sitting at other end, silent the whole time, bursts out laughing and says “gotta love public transportation.”

  13. Cass says:

    people who stand at the front of the bus and won’t move back and people whose music is loud enough for me to hear the lyrics sitting ten seats away.

  14. Cheryl says:

    Hey now. I have a car and I still take the CTA every day for work and regularly on weekend cause it’s easier. But, it is definitely interesting. The loud talkers, especially in the morning, annoy me. People who sit sprawled all over and take up two seats bother me. Sit up straight for God’s sake!

  15. I do have a car but the roads around here get so congested and parking is a nightmare so I still take the metro almost everywhere. I share all your pet peeves, but what I dislike most about Dutch public transport in particular is how people stick to their spot, even if it means you have to get off the metro and they’re blocking you from reaching the door. The number of times I had to tell people ‘I need to exit here’ and they just gave me looks that said ‘see if I care’…

  16. SoMi's Nilsa says:

    I don’t take public transportation on a regular basis. But, I think the loud talker gets a hall pass when they’re telling the person with the purse on the seat to move it or tell the ass-swiping guy to shove it. =)

    BTW, funny enough, I have a somewhat related post coming up later this week related to driving!

  17. Mandy says:

    Oh man, this makes me so glad that I have a car and dont rely on public transportation. I used it when I was in DC though and never really minded it. It took some getting used to but it was good though.

  18. sara says:

    Those pet peeves are funny, I cannot even imagine. I have always lived in Texas so I have always had a car since I was 16. We don’t have public transportation in the ‘burbs. So how do you go grocery shopping and such with no car and carrying all those bags? I would not want to do that with kids either. I can’t imagine keeping up with my 5 year old on a bus.

  19. Taryn says:

    I don’t live in the city right now, and get to enjoy the luxury of a car, but I remember living abroad and using public transportation for everything. Everything. It was tough. I, too, don’t like to get too packed in- I had a bad experience with a guy and my behind. What is with that?

  20. Pam says:

    Ohhhh the CTA, how I loathe it. Well ok, I can’t hate it that much since I rely on the bus to get me to work every day (and everywhere else for that matter), but still…it kind of sucks sometimes.

    My pet peeves? Loud talkers (HATE IT), when people who know each other sit across from each other and carry on a conversation across the bus, people who hog elbow space when you’re sitting down and people who stand in front of the back door and block it.

    The one thing I always get confused about is the age range of people to give up my seat to. Obviously elderly, yes. Pregnant women, yes. People with a millions bags, yes. But sometimes it’s hard to tell the ages of people and I find myself sitting there wondering if I’ll offend them by offering my seat or not. So usually I don’t…but then I always feel a bit bad.

  21. Leah says:

    I cannot stand:

    The people who ignore the fact that you are getting up to leave and they either don’t move at all, or they move their legs to the side just enough to look like they tried to let you get past, when you actually don’t have enough room! I’ve almost missed my stop countless times because of these jerks!

  22. Man.. you nailed the head on almost every single one. I just got off the bus about 5 minutes ago where there was a huge fist fight in the back of the bus because two 18 year old kids were fighting over a girl… gotta love it! LOL PS The bus driver kicked them off and the whole bus clapped *me included*

  23. Andhari says:

    I can so relate although I barely use public transpo. I will hate seeing cuddlers and excessive PDA ANYWHERE. Seriously, I’m a nice person so dont make me bitchy you wont like it. LMAO.

  24. i don’t use any public transportation, does that make me a bad city dweller? or does that mean that cleveland doesn’t have good enough public transportation. i’m going with the latter.

  25. Blaez says:

    when you have your own car tho it can be just as horrible navigating through traffic and trying to find a “safe” place to tuck away your vehicle.

    including the highprices for public parking.

  26. Caz says:

    Haha this reminds me I should write another set of “open letters to people on public transit”.

    The things I see people do is shocking!

  27. Kristi says:

    I take the Metra then 2 CTA buses everyday. I did a top 10 reasons commuting on public trans. stinks a little while back! I would add to your list those who do their make-up (although I see this more on the Metra than the CTA), those who push and shove to be the first ones on/off and my favorite is the guy on the Metra who clips his toenails. However, it IS better than driving. I just wish people would learn/use manners.

    Great post and I hope all is well after the fire.

  28. cavy says:

    i love public transportation, except for the issues you listed above. the worst is when a middle-ager looks at you expectantly like you should give up your seat for them! they’re not old, pregnant, or disabled, so why the eff would i want to stand in their place?

  29. Hi! I'm Erin says:

    Loud talkers, people who smell, and dudes with “giant ball syndrome” (i.e. the guys who feel the need to sit with their legs open wide) are my pet peeves. I also dislike crazy people who talk to themselves or think that because I glanced in their direction I wanted them to start up a conversation with me.

  30. K13 says:

    I often wish I lived in a city with public transportation. I don’t like driving and I hate paying for auto insurance…so PT is for me. I would love to be able to people watch and read a book on the way to/from work. Certainly there are cons to PT, as you listed them, and I can’t imagine hauling my 13 month old around on the L would be much fun!

  31. Lys says:

    um, how about the prices? by march 25th here in nyc, unlimited ride monthly metrocards are going to be $103. what. the. fuck. if i could boycott it, i would, but they have my by the proverbial balls in that i have zero other transportation options. ugh.

  32. MaggieConv says:

    Ahh I totally agree! I miss my car so much, I appreciate it so much more now.

    I admit that sometimes I’m guilty of the cuddling/PDA but only because chris is a touchy guy. Trust me, not my choice!!

    and add treating the bus like your kitchen/trash can. How disgusting is it when people are scarfing down food, and then discard the trash on the floor?!

  33. LBluca77 says:

    Where I live they have The Passport, which only runs in Long Beach and mostly only down one street from the east side to west side. I take it when I go to the bars downtown. I like taking it because I have seen many entertaining things on The Passport.