Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Further notes on the CTA Leave Early/Leave Late/Alternate tests

I will not be posting on this every day, as you may have noticed from the lack of blogging recently. Is this because I’m waiting until I have a crappy El day? Nope, it’s because I’m lucky enough to have a boyfriend who lives very close to where I work. When I stay with him, I walk to work and avoid the CTA altogether.

The default train-based route to work is Brown line to Belmont, transfer at Belmont to Red line, Red line to Grand. An alternate train-only option would be Brown line to Merch Mart, and walk over. It might take longer, but I would be almost guaranteed a seat, since I board so early in the Brown line run. Also, Jamba Juice right next to the station. Mmm, Jamba. But still: the main trade-off would be avoiding the wait at Belmont but dealing with the extra stops south of there on the Brown, as well as the increased walk to work.

Bus or bus-and train alternatives:

The 148 Bus.
Pros: Stops three blocks away. No transfer. Express from Irving Park to Michigan/Delaware. Drops me off closer to work (by one block) than the Red line. According to the CTA’s website, 7:05 bus will drop me off at 7:45 where I need to be at 8:00.
Cons: Completely dependant on traffic situation on LSD, unlike partial-rail routes. According to experience, 7:05 bus will get me to where I need to be sometime between 8:10 and 8:45, depending on traffic issues. But perhaps an earlier bus will avoid the traffic bottlenecks onto and off of LSD.

Montrose Bus to Red line.
Pros: Shortest trip to a bus stop/train station. No Belmont transfer wait. More likely to get a Red line seat if I get on north of Belmont.
Cons: Flax suggested this route, so I’ll try it, but it wasn’t one I initially considered to be a great idea. I’ve had bad experiences using a bus-to-Red method on the north and south sides (Belmont and Garfield Ave). One of the delay factors on the Brown line-Red line route is waiting for the Red to show up at Belmont, especially when a northbound Brown cuts off the southbound Red. Taking the Red from Montrose won’t make the train run faster, though I will avoid waiting around outside for the connection. Because the official three-line slow zone is on the Red line track between Addison and Armitage, this route maximizes my time in the slow zone.

Damen bus to Chicago bus.
Pros: Won’t have to worry about highway traffic. Very short walk to bus stop. If I leave early, I can check out some of the new cafes in West Town. No relying on red or brown line.
Cons: Ass out of the way. I mean, really ass out of my way. Bit of a walk from Chicago Ave to work (though not as long as it is from the Merch Mart to work). I have no clue how regular the Chicago bus is. Based on how packed I've seen it on the weekeneds, I suspect Chicago Avenue can be a hot mess in the morning.

But hey, I initially didn't believe that heading into the heart of the city and using two buses to get from Lakeview to Hyde Park would be quicker than the Red and the 55 bus, and you know what? The 146 to the 2 or 6, connecting at Lake and State were WAY faster than the Red and the 55. So I'm hoping for a surprise here.