Before last month I didn't have any experience with public transportation. Zilch. Zero. Nada. Needless to say the first week of riding the train was nerve-wracking. I had no clue what I was doing, where I was going, or how anything worked. But now after a month of riding the train four days a week I am an expert. In these four short weeks I have learned many valuable lessons about the Metra, so to help future clueless Metra newbies here's a guide to everything I've learned in the past month.
1. The train is always late
Without fail I have found myself waiting five ten or even fifteen minutes for the train in the morning. The wait seems to be longer whenever I really really really need to be at work on time. The moment the loud speaker goes on in the train station and I hear that there has been a hold up or mechanical issues I know I'll be late to work.
2. Except when it's not
Without fail whenever I'm running late the train is running on time. There's nothing like fast walking so you don't miss your train.
3. There's a student discount on train tickets
I just learned this one today, three days after buying my monthly ticket for June. I could have saved almost a hundred dollars. Don't make the same mistake I made. Use the student discount.
4. The train cars with larger windows are newer
I learned this one my first train ride from my dad. The larger the windows the nicer the car. The more you know.
5. The back of the seats move so you're always facing the way you're going
It took me way longer than it should've to figure this out. I literally spent weeks trying to figure out how in the world I was always facing the right way until I saw someone change the direction of their seat by pulling on the metal part on the back of the seat and changing the direction. I don't know what I thought happened but it was not that.
6. People walk with no sense of urgency
I HATE being behind slow walkers and everyone who rides the Metra is a slow walker. Literally everyone. When I get off the train the walkway is narrow and there are poles in the way a lot of time. It's like being stuck in traffic, but you're not in a car. To try and get where I'm going faster I tend to weave in between people. Effective but hard to properly master.
7. How to use the escalator properly
The right side of the escalator is for standing. The left side of the escalator is for walking. Make sure you are on the proper side. There's nothing I hate more than a stander on the left side of the escalator holding everyone up.
8. Stick your ticket under the bottom prong
So on each chair there is a metal prong on the top of the chair. There is two places you can stick your ticket the top prong and one underneath it. Use the one underneath it. The ticket sticks there better despite seeming like it won't fit.
9. People who sit up top get off the train first
I know this one seems like it makes no sense, but trust me it's true. Even though the people on the second level already sit by themselves instead of next to a stranger they still get off the train before the people on the bottom level. It's totally unfair and really dumb especially since I never sit up there.
10. People who sit on the outside side of the seat first are the worst
The worst people on the train are the people who sit on the outside of the seat first and then when you ask to sit in the seat with them get up and make you sit on the inside. These people are almost exclusively white old men.
11. Don't sit in the seats facing each other
The end of the train car is always two seats facing each other. The people who sit there always have their legs pushed together. Plus instead of sitting next to one stranger you have to sit next to three.