- The elevated tracks, the "L," are very nice for newcomers since one can spot the tracks from some distance, and once the tracks are identified, finding a station becomes a simple process.
- The announcements are recorded, clearly recorded, as opposed to the garbled live announcements used by, for example, the DC Metro.
- I saw a status display today that showed all elevators in the system in operation. The CTA (Chicago Transit Authority) web site today claimed all lines operating normally. The DC Metro hasn't been in such a state for a long while, unless maybe it was brief and I missed it.
- At one station, and really at just one exit to one station, upon exit there are compass points embedded in the sidewalk. I left the Grand Station's NW exit (also labeling exits by compass points is great) wanting to go west, looked down upon exit, and saw that west was straight ahead. This is such a great thing, and so simple, I think all subway systems should adopt it (the red line at Grand is underground, as is much of the system). [ Added 2012-08-25: the Chicago Avenue stop on the Brown line also has compass points of this sort at an exit. ]
I guess part of my pleasure at how nice the CTA is comes from recent DC Metro ridership, but DC comparisons aside, the CTA seems to be doing a good job. It's nice to see some part of the country's infrastructure that still works.
Yes, I know that the phrase Chicago's CTA is redundant.