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Door Hogs, Loners And Folks In The Back: This Is How Chicago Rides The 'L'

By Tanveer Ali | April 12, 2016 5:36am | Updated on April 12, 2016 7:21am

CHICAGO — Earlier this year, we asked our readers, How do you ride CTA trains?

Tens of thousands of you responded, sharing with us what your favorite seats are, where you'd ride if your favorite spot was taken and where you'd stand if no seats were available.

We learned a lot about how Chicago rides the "L" and how riders differ on each line. You can still ride our virtual "L," but in the meantime, here's some of what we learned:

Blue Line riders and Orange Line riders are very different

Two things make the Blue and Orange lines similar: Both lines end at an airport and both lines use the same old-school train cars.

But as far as their riders are concerned, they are very different.

In most circumstances, Blue Line riders like to be near the door.

But Orange Line riders prefer riding further away from the doors, near the end of the train cars. They even like the spots in that half-hidden area in the back of train cars.

Green Line riders are likelier to stand more than any other riders

Overwhelmingly, if given a pick of seats, CTA riders will sit down.

But even when trains are empty, one in 10 Green Line riders choose to stand, the highest of any of the eight CTA lines.

The number of standing Green Line riders shoots up to over 16 percent when prime seats are already taken.

On the other end of the spectrum are Brown Line riders, who hate being on their feet.

If a train is empty, only 5 percent of Brown Line riders choose to stand. Take away a rider's favorite seat and the number of standing passengers on the Brown Line goes up to only 8 percent.

Shorter the ride, the closer commuters want to be by the door

We asked riders about the lengths of their typical ride to see if there's any difference between riders' preferences.

What we found was that the shorter the ride, the more likely riders will stay near the doors.

Here are the favorite spots for Red Line riders traveling no more than three stops. A decent number of riders will just stand near the door. About half of riders stay in the immediate area around the doors.

But take a trip at least eight stops long — say from Howard to Grand — and people get deeper into the train cars. Even that little alcove area in the back of the cars become more popular.

If forced to stand, CTA riders will crowd near the doors

Denied the comfort of an "L" seat, CTA riders will choose the convenience of standing at or right next to the door.

On seven of the eight lines, at least 60 percent of riders will ride near the door.

The exception? Brown Line riders. They're much more likely to stand away from the doors.

Brown Line riders really want to sit alone

OK, most "L" riders do. But, on the Brown Line, riders are fortunate enough to ride trains that have multiple single-seat options that minimize shoulder-to-shoulder contact with strangers.

Brown Line riders take advantage of that, with nearly 60 percent of riders choosing one of the seven single seats on the train as their favorites.

Not all single seats are the same though, as the most popular seat sits in the center of the train.

Of course, you can't always sit in your favorite seat on the "L," and we wanted to know where commuters would ride if their prime spots (and spots like it) are taken.

Based on DNAinfo readers response, when the best single Brown Line seats — those in the middle — are taken, the best seats are the single seats way at the end of the car. You might have to sit face-to-face with another person, but you won't be next to anyone.

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