Metra setting their tracks on fire is only below random patio furniture being used for dibs on the list of "uniquely Chicago signs that it's pretty nasty outside."

I used to ride the Metra every day and I remember the first time I saw them do this. I legitimately thought there was a problem. I asked the conductor about it and it turns out this is a pretty common practice. They use when there are icy conditions to prevent switches from jamming up.

If you've ever ridden Metra with any regularity during the winter you know all too well about switch malfunctions. They seem to pop up almost weekly and would NEVER happen on your way into work, only when you were trying to get home. How long will it be? Who knows? We have to wait for the maintenance crew to get out there with their blowtorches and pickaxes. Could be an hour. You might want to settle in.

While we're talking about the Metra, here are the definitive power rankings of seat choices when you take the train.

1. Upper level. Back bench.

Youtube @Metra

This is only for longer trips. You are king of the car up here. Plenty of leg room. Only downside is a long trip to the restroom if you're enjoying some pregame beverages before a baseball game.

2. Lower level. Bench

Make sure you're not flipping that seat forward if the car is more than a third full. This is a fine seat. Usually enough legroom. Downside is that you're down with the riff raff. It can get a little loud down here during busy times.

3. Upper level. Single seat facing forward

I can't find a good picture of this seat but there are 5 or 6 of these on the upper level. Great if you're by yourself and don't want anyone to bother you. 100% of people in these seats are wearing earbuds.

4. Upper level. Bench facing inward.

This time I'm using the picture to highlight the guys facing each other. Horrible seats. No leg room and there's always somebody trying to squeeze by you. It's so close to the catbird seat in the rear bench, but this is a horrible way to travel.

5. Lower level Handicapped area.

Again, I can't find a good picture. This is towards the vestibule side of the car. It's a wider open area that can accommodate wheelchairs, strollers, bicycles, and such.

Not only should you not sit here because it should be saved for disabled riders, but you should not want to sit here because it's pure chaos. Everyone is walking by you. It's somehow out in the open and claustrophobic at the same time. Sit here only if all other options have been exhausted.

 

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