Thursday, March 5, 2009

MTA versus CTA

The New York Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA) oversees the subway system in New York City where I use the underground trains often and religiously refill my MetroCard, swipe it at the turnstile, and go on my merry way.

On a trip to Chicago, I decided to forego the convenient taxi ride from O'Hare Airport to downtown Chicago and navigate the Chicago Transit Authority's (CTA) subway system. I wanted to see what the Windy City's rails were like.

When I descended into the station, I asked a nearby CTA worker where I would find the "L Train." She rolled her eyes and said, "They're all 'L' Trains." I subsequently learned that "L" stands for "Elevated Train." Humph, the MTA subway has 16 lettered lines from A to Z, including an "L" train.

Upon approaching the fare dispenser, I read it carefully, trying to take in the instructions. After ascertaining that the cost was 25¢ over the $2.00 NYC fare, I inserted a $20 bill, pressed the requisite buttons, and pinched out my brand new CTA card. With the line behind me growing, I became anxious when my change did not spill forth. Seeing that same CTA worker, I asked why no change. In the boldest - and obnoxious, I might add - way possible, she pointed her gloved finger at the middle of the machine right where it said, "This Machine Does Not Give Change." Grrr. My subway experiment cost me twenty bucks.

This story has a happy ending, though. The man standing behind me in line handed me a twenty, plucked my CTA card from my fingers and said, "Get change and start over again. I can use your card." All smiles, I said, "Thank you, thank you" and asked my CTA worker-friend to point me in the right direction of a change machine.

1 comment:

Matt said...

Had you been back in NY the person behind you in line probably would have taken your $20, your train card and coughed on you for good measure!