Our own reviewer, Monica Reida, has decided to take the biggest challenge of all. She will be reviewing ALL CTA train lines and bus lines over the next few months for our website. If you have a question or comment for her, leave it here!
The Red Line is the train I take the most often and thanks to that I have some really freaky stories to tell. Like the time I was coming back from a show at the Side Project, and the train I was on stopped, opened the doors, and the lights went out. Or times people vomit on the train. Or have sex on the train. But if you’ve taken the Red Line, you’ve probably already seen this. The other stuff, not being on a train that suddenly turns into a scene from a horror film.
(Side note: Who the hell would have sex on the Red Line?)
The Red Line isn’t like the Brown Line, which has really nice, semi-new stops. Half of the Red Line stops are nice and the other half are decaying and/or smell like piss. One of the most notable creepy Red Line stops is the Wilson Stop, which I once used to go see a Pegasus Players show, back when they were still a big thing. Guys, that stop is incredibly scary. I mean, sure there’s Truman College and a Harold’s Chicken Shack nearby, but that stop freaks me out.
Then there are stops like the Chicago, Lake, and Jackson Stops, which have nice tile work and escalators that actually work. The Grand and North/Clybourn stops are getting there, mostly because Apple decided to finance the renovation of one of those stops. The Harrison stop isn’t fancy and the entrance seems to be leaky, but they’ve got nice haikus to read while you wait for the train. So if you’re into haikus, that’s great for you.
The cars themselves vary. If you get one of the sexy new trains the CTA’s testing, that’s great for you. Otherwise, you can get fairly clean rail cars or cars where all of the seats either have gum or Flamin’ Hot Cheetos dust on them. The other night I was on a car that had a bunch of sand covering the floor as if a sandbag had burst. I have no clue how that got there unless someone decided to do a mobile sandbox.
Plus, if you take the Red Line, you sometimes have to fight teenage girls with Forever 21 bags for priority seating if you’re in a cast, boot, or on crutches. Even if you’re like, “Hey, I’m in a boot because my foot got injured. I need to sit down and rest my foot,” they’re like, “Nuh uh, my bag of cheap clothing and I deserve this seat.” Then you say, “Please?” while getting wide-eyed and sad only to be ignored while they feverishly text their boyfriends.
Also, the Red Line never seems to run quickly when you need it to. I’ll be on the Red Line on the weekend and my travel time is half of what it is when I’m on the train at 7:25 a.m.. I then think to myself, “Why can’t you run this fast when I have to be somewhere on time?”
Taking the Red Line is a love/hate relationship. Most of the time, it will get you to where you need to go because it’s the closest to your destination. Sure, it smells bad, is dirty, and sometimes breaks down in between North/Clybourn and Clark/Division (which always sucks), but sometimes you have to take it because the Brown Line won’t get you to where you’re going and you live too far away from the Brown Line. Plus, the Red Line runs 24-hours a day, which always comes in handy when you go to a late night show or go barhopping. Or go to a late night show and then go barhopping.
The Red Line stop at Garfield is also nicer than the Green Line stop. Just throwing that out there.
Sure, there are a lot of other lines on the L that are much nicer. (By “a lot,” I mean three.) But sometimes you’ve got to take the Red Line and it works well for getting you to and from your apartment and job. Most of the time.
Seriously though, CTA, fix the Wilson Stop. People probably want to go to the Harold’s Chicken Shack on the North Side.
B, if you get the new trains.