Tuesday, December 8, 2009

New York Trains vs. Chicago Trains

So during my visit home, I was very excited to see how to maneuver around New York using the trains with a baby. Since I use the CTA (Chicago Transit Authority) quite often to get around Chicago, it was bound to be easier in NY considering the MTA (Mass Transit Authority) is one of the largest train systems in the world, right? Well, let me tell you....

After taking the train to Midway in Chicago, I totally forgot that there was none from LaGuardia to the city. Whoops. Being a native New Yorker, you can imagine my embarrassment of getting lost not once, not twice but three times on the train. Either we got on the wrong one or went in the wrong direction. Why? Because New York is so thorough in their transit system that they not only have trains numbered but lettered, on many different platforms, with many elevators (and escalators) and they even have three (that's right, THREE) A trains all of which start at one stop but end at three separate stops.

With all of this being said, the train rides were not bad. They were pretty frequent, there was always a spot for us to sit down (believe it or not!) and there were many other moms on the train who were traveling as well.

So here is a breakdown of pros and cons that I've experienced from both transit systems so far.

  • There is elevator access at three downtown locations
  • The trains run pretty late (if you happen to be out clubbing with your kids)
  • There are heating stations at the stops so you feel like a lil Chicken Nugget while you wait
  • The stations are pretty clean and rat free
  • There are trains that take you directly to the airport
  • Many stations now have flat screen tvs with the weather and time

  • There are only three elevator locations in the loop
  • There are times that the elevators don't work (like the ones in the airport)
  • The trains are narrow so you can't really fit the stroller on the train without blocking someone in
  • You tend to get really dirty looks if you get on a train at certain hours (especially rush hour)

New York

  • There are many, many trains to take you to almost every part of the city
  • The trains operate 24 hours
  • The trains are very spacious so you have room for stroller
  • Believe it or not, people are very courteous to help with the stroller
  • There are news/snack stands in some of the stations
  • There is plenty of room to change a diaper in the stroller and no one gives you funny looks (I know first hand)
  • The newer trains have screens that list the upcoming stops
  • It is very easy to get lost or confused (Con- there are lots of maps in the stations)
  • There is a very annoying alarm goes off every time you open the doors
  • There are many, many stairs to use if there is no elevator. Many, many...many stairs
  • There are some pretty strange people on the train, but with a population of 10 million there's bound to be a weirdo or two
  • There is no direct train that takes you to the airports
So which train system is the best? It is hard to say without being biased, I mean being from New York I'll always think that what the city has to offer is better than anywhere else. Although Chicago's trains are cleaner my vote is for New York! The reasons I deem New York the winner are:
  1. You get one hell of a workout going up and down all those stairs
  2. There are more train cars and they are bigger, longer (giggedy) and can fit more strollers
  3. You can take the train almost anywhere without having to worry about transferring to a bus or walking too far.

What are your thoughts of mass transit? Do you have any interesting stories? Email them to me at

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