Tyler A. Green

In Transit

Month: March 2016

Updated: New York City Transit Frequency Visualization

Since I detailed my New York City transit frequency visualization project last month, there have been a few updates. Check out the web tool to view the changes!

What’s new?

  • The frequency buckets have been realigned to better parallel the psychology of how we use transit. The bins now group trips of less than 4 trips per hour, 4 to 8 trips per hour, and more than 8 trips per hour. Less than 4 trips per hour is generally the threshold where riders should consult a schedule before waiting on a curb, so it was important to separate these visually. The thickness of each edge now also increases with frequency.
  • There is now much more coverage in Queens bus data. No, MTA did not see my first update and decide to expand Queens service, though that would be awesome! I communicated with the Transitland team and my tool helped them discover they were previously missing the feed for the MTA Bus Company. It was historically a separate company and still has its own GTFS feed. I came up with some wild conclusions in my previous post on this project, several of which were rendered invalid by the completion of the data set.

What’s up next?

I’d still like to filter the express bus routes, provide finer-grained sorting by mode, and increase the dynamic nature of the tool in general. I’ve been working on an updated Ruby client to pair with the Transitland datastore, and have already updated my project source with the new interface. I’ve also begun dabbling with GTFS-realtime and plan to build a project with this specification soon.

We’re all #InTransit everyday and I hope to have many more updates soon!

What kind of things are you working on? Let me know in the comments below!

The frequency data for subway routes on a Friday morning for New York City transit. The darker the color, the higher the frequency!

The frequency data for subway routes on a Friday morning in New York City. The darker the color, the higher the frequency!

Warning: The Fort Collins Streetcar is Adorable

Transit fans be warned: the Fort Collins streetcar is adorable. It’s no kitten, but Car 21 certainly takes you to an era bygone. I wanted to grab an evening post, tighten the top button on my overcoat, and ride into a romanticized time as I leaned against the rattan-backed seat.

The inside of the Fort Collins streetcar.

The interior of Car 21 in all its glory. Yes, the historically accurate ceiling tie reads “Smoking on Two Rear Seats Only”.

A sign at the trolley barn for the Fort Collins streetcar.

I’m a big fan of this sign inside the Fort Collins Municipal Railway trolley barn. The icon is quite accurate! The streetcar in this icon is traveling right to left. Doing the opposite would be called “back-poling” and is rightly frowned upon for fear of overhead wire disconnects.

Car 21 of the Fort Collins streetcar.

Car 21 ready to depart the trolley barn. The wooden slats on the front form a safety catcher. When an item trips this mechanism, another set of wooden bars behind it drop low to the tracks to catch the item on the track. As one motorman told me, “It’s so you get beat to death rather than run over.” Each end has a safety catcher, since we don’t turn the streetcar around.

Fort Collins streetcar on Mountain Avenue.

Car 21 in the barn is neat, but Car 21 driving down Mountain Avenue is neater! I remember being distracted while taking this photo by the compressor noisily working to reach 50 PSI. Air brakes, am I right? The handle on the top right of the seats is used to switch the seat back when the streetcar changes direction of travel.

A few of the interesting technical components:

  • The two strands of lights along the ceiling are wired in series with the headlights. Just like with old Christmas tree lights, when one goes out, you may have to test them all! (The expected value of the number of lights you’ll have to test before finding the defective one is n / 2, where n is the number of lights in series and assuming each light has equal probability of being defective at that moment. Since that assumption is false, the provided equation is useless. #probability)
  • While 600 V DC comes in through the overhead wire, its path to ground is through the undercarriage and into the tracks. Literally: to ground. This is neat enough by itself, but this also means the electrical path from overhead wire to ground goes through the gear (constant 5:1 ratio on the two electric motors on Car 21) teeth. And this was by design. I was blown away when I learned that!
  • The motorman has control to drop water on the tracks when going around turns to prevent the screeching sound that reminds us that steel-wheeled trains are not easy to turn. The original Fort Collins streetcars used grease, but were run in a less environmentally friendly time. To avoid risking the water tanks freezing, we ran the streetcar at full volume yesterday.
  • The streetcar is equipped with a people counter that is incremented by the motorman with the pull of a handle. It rolls over at 100,000 passengers and gives a mechanical chime so sweet it made me never want to use anything electronic ever again. The car has carried over 260,000 riders since it re-opened in 1984.

Learning about the streetcar led me to pay more attention to the dates on the transit history art at the South Transit Center. Below is a depiction of streetcars at the intersection of Mountain and College. The wye-shaped interchange was famous among train buffs at the time and was known as the “Three-Way Meet”. I’m pretty sure there is another tile commemorating Fort Collins’ final streetcar in 1951, but my bus was early on this day and I prioritized not being stranded over trolley art coverage. I’ll look for it this week!

Fort Collins streetcar transit art at the South Transit Center.

Until next time, ride on!

A Ruby Gem for GTFS to GeoJSON Conversion

I published my first Ruby gem: gtfs-geojson! You can view the source on GitHub. gtfs-geojson is a Ruby utility to convert a GTFS feed to a GeoJSON file. It’s a simple endeavor, for sure, but I’m pleased with what I learned along the way.

Let’s start out with some before-and-after views of the data. These images were created using QGIS, OpenStreetMap, Transfort’s GTFS feed, and the gtfs-geojson library.

The Transfort GTFS data loaded in QGIS before applying the Ruby gem for GTFS to GeoJSON conversion.

This map displays the shapes.txt file from Transfort’s GTFS feed loaded into QGIS. The seemingly-inconsistent shading on the lines is because there are no lines at all; each “line” is made up of a sequence of points. Each point contains a route ID and is ordered relative to the other points in its route by a point sequence value.

The Transfort GTFS data loaded in QGIS after applying the Ruby gem for GTFS to GeoJSON conversion.

After running the GTFS feed through gtfs-geojson, you now have a GeoJSON file whose features are each route from the original feed. I used “Categorized” styles in QGIS to quickly apply a unique color to each route.

As with most transit projects, the input to gtfs-geojson is a GTFS feed. GTFS is the standard format published by transit agencies worldwide to make their routes, stops, and even fares usable by developers. The data is a series of comma-separated text files. To validate a GTFS feed, I used an existing gem. gtfs will fail gracefully if the shapes.txt file is not present, which is the only file I actually need for the conversion to GeoJSON.

gtfs-geojson implements the same algorithm as the “Points to path” QGIS tool I used when looking at Transfort bus data. The main trick is that the points within each route ID must be sorted by their point sequence value. Several other QGIS plugins I tried did not do this correctly, so don’t forget this if implementing this yourself!

While QGIS tools output shapefiles, gtfs-geojson produces a GeoJSON file, which is a JSON stream with geospatial points and polylines data served up in a standard format. I have previously loaded GeoJSON files in Mapbox applications, and they are also useful in a GIS context. The following three lines will load the library, validate the GTFS feed, convert its shapes.txt file to GeoJSON format, and write the GeoJSON to a file.

require 'gtfs-geojson'
geojson = GTFS::GeoJSON.generate("gtfs.zip")
File.open("gtfs.geojson",'w') do { |f| f.write(geojson) }

That’s it! Let me know if you have any suggestions! The README on the GitHub repo gives installation instructions.

The most valuable tip I learned while creating this gem was the use of the $RUBYLIB environment variable. This isn’t necessary when installing a gem onto your system using bundler, but it is extremely helpful during development. $RUBYLIB lets you specify the path searched when the require keyword is used. To add paths dynamically to $RUBYLIB, you can push items to the ‘$:‘ array. $: is shorthand for $LOAD_PATH within a Ruby program. My require_relative days are over!

If you are considering writing your own gem, I highly recommend RubyGems.org’s “Make Your Own Gem” guide. It is comprehensive and just generally fantastic.

I plan to use gtfs-geojson in a Rails project in the future. And speaking of gems, I’ve also been dabbling on a Ruby API client for Transitland. I hope to have more to share on both fronts soon!

Until then, ride on!

Have any transit projects to share? Let me know!

All Aboard the Fort Collins Municipal Railway!

After seeing a call for volunteers in the Coloradoan, Calvin and I are now conductors-in-training for the Fort Collins Municipal Railway! We had our first session yesterday and toured the trolley barn on N. Howes Street. I’ve shared a few photos below!

Streetcars originally ran in Fort Collins from 1907 until 1951. Five streetcars served the city over these years. The first run of restored Car 21 was in 1984, and this is the car that still runs today. The FCMR Society is in the process of restoring a “second Car 25.” (Who needs unique fleet numbers??) I’m looking forward to learning more of the history of the trolley and giddy for the opportunity to share the intrigue of a historical mode of transit with the families of Fort Collins this summer!

The trolley runs on weekends and holidays May through September. Visit fortcollinstrolley.org for more information!

The Fort Collins Municipal Railway barn on N. Howes Street. It was built in roughly ten years before the date listed on its sign of 1919. Not sure of the reason for the misdirection!

The Fort Collins Municipal Railway barn on N. Howes Street. It was built in roughly ten years before the date listed on its sign of 1919. Not sure of the reason for the misdirection!

The body of Car 25 in restoration in the trolley barn. The "truck" or undercarriage is pictured in the foreground. Its current restoration as Charleston Car 407 was done by the SCANA Corporation of South Carolina. It was purchased by the Fort Collins Municipal Railway society in 2007.

The body of Car 25 in restoration in the trolley barn. The “truck” or undercarriage is pictured in the foreground. Its current restoration as Charleston Car 407 was done by the SCANA Corporation of South Carolina. It was purchased by the Fort Collins Municipal Railway society in 2007.

A closer view of the truck of Car 25. In the foreground and background center are the two motors that power the wheels. The short wheel base was common among Birney cars such as this one.

A closer view of the truck of Car 25. In the foreground and background center are the two motors that power the wheels. The short wheel base was common among Birney cars such as this one.

A close up of one of the Car 25 wheels. The motorman has a control that will drop sand onto the tracks in front of each tire to assist in braking!

A close up of one of the Car 25 wheels. The motorman has a control that will drop sand onto the tracks in front of each wheel to assist in braking!

Other contents of the trolley barn garage included a recently-retired Transfort bus. There was talk of opening a transportation museum, and this is one of the "relics". Transfort does not operate any Blue Birds today, so this find excited me!

Other contents of the trolley barn garage included a recently-retired Transfort bus. There was talk of opening a transportation museum, and this is one of the “relics”. Transfort does not operate any Blue Birds today (only Gilligs and NABIs, that I know of), so this find excited me!

More trolley barn contents: a historical Timnath fire truck!

More trolley barn contents: a historical Timnath fire truck!

A historical omnibus (horse-drawn bus) in the Fort Collins Municipal Railway trolley barn! There is some doubt as two whether this was actually a school bus, but the side reads "Cache la Poudre School Bus."

A historical omnibus (horse-drawn bus) in the Fort Collins Municipal Railway trolley barn! There is some doubt as two whether this was actually a school bus, but the side reads “Cache la Poudre School Bus.”

A side view of the "Cache la Poudre School Bus" in the Fort Collins Municipal trolley barn.

A side view of the “Cache la Poudre School Bus.”

Two giants in transit: Blue Bird and Transfort.

Two giants in transit: Blue Bird and Transfort.

The Transfort bus was retired even more recently than I would have guessed; this label shows its annual inspection was last completed in June 2014.

The Transfort bus was retired even more recently than I would have guessed; this label shows its annual inspection was last completed in June 2014.

The interior of Car 25 during restoration in the Fort Collins Municipal Railway trolley barn.

The interior of Car 25 during restoration.

The ceiling of Car 25 is marked with its original manufacturer: J.G. Brill Company in Philadelphia. Brill stopped making transit vehicles in 1954.

The ceiling of Car 25 is marked with its original manufacturer: J.G. Brill Company in Philadelphia. Brill stopped making transit vehicles in 1954.

I have loads more to learn about trolleys in Fort Collins! Let me know if you have any questions and I can likely find the answer from the knowledgeable people in the society. Hope to see you on the ride down Mountain Avenue this summer!

Ride on!

I’m a Millennial and I Don’t Expect WiFi on Buses

MTA’s new fleet of buses will have WiFi! Millennials everywhere rejoice! Or so says the narrative playing out in New York this month.

After New York Governor Andrew Cuomo announced that more than 2,000 WiFi-enabled buses will hit the streets of New York City by 2020, I am left wondering: WhyFi?

One quote circulating the transit web this week from MTA Chairman Thomas Prendergast is particularly interesting: “As more and more millennials enter the system and use it daily, these are expectations, not desires, on their part.” Are they though?

I ride two buses for a total of about 35 minutes each weekday morning. I read books. I read articles on my phone. I write emails. I plan my days. Sure, there have been times where I’ve thought about finishing a nagging programming problem on the bus. The truth is: my overall daily effectiveness is actually higher because of my non-WiFi activities. I schedule that time to finish lingering tasks from the day and catch up on blogs I literally only read while I’m on the bus.

Why can’t there be a different headline headline? “Millennials discover new productivity techniques while riding the bus” has a nice ring to it, don’t you think?

On the other hand, access to cell signal is an enormous benefit. I was excited when Chicago added cell signal to its underground routes last year. On a 20-minute ride, the benefits from cell signal versus nothing are far greater than those of WiFi versus cell signal only.

Oh, and the two times I’ve decided to use WiFi on the MAX, I was greeted with the following result.

Bad experiences with WiFi on buses

Even the document error icon looks sad.

Bad experiences with WiFi on buses

Maybe I forgot to connect to the netwo…nope, that’s not it.

Bad experiences with WiFi on buses

If speedtest.net had ever loaded, I doubt I would have been pleased with its figures.

(At this point in writing this, I conducted a not-quite-full-fledged survey on the 16 bus and asked two people about their MAX WiFi experiences. Jake from An Anxious Extrovert relayed he has numerous underwhelming experiences with the MAX WiFi. “Sometimes a Facebook message will come in, but I can’t read it or reply.” Get the picture? Jake did bring up a fantastic use case I had neglected to consider: those with smart phones but without data plans. (Functional) WiFi on the MAX would give him around 40 minutes round-trip connectivity a day he otherwise goes without. Our nameless seatmate gave a convincing “No!” when we asked if he had gotten the WiFi to work. He asked the driver about this once and the driver even went outside the bus to make a tweak, presumably with the intention of improving the internet access. We digressed to make a full series of jokes about the driver crank starting a dedicated WiFi generator, making subtle hand adjustments to a satellite dish, and even sending HTTP requests manually on behalf of the riders before I remembered our original question. I asked our bus-mate if the internet had worked after the tweak and his response was inconclusive: “I think I got off the bus.” And we’re back…)

I understand that WiFi is not a huge expenditure. Transfort allocates $40,000 a year for WiFi service on the MAX (out of an annual budget of if-I’m-reading-it-correctly $57 million) and it will cost $10.2 million for the MTA. Two things to keep in mind for the MTA: 1) this number also includes installation of USB charging ports and, 2) their annual operating budget is $14.8 BILLION.

Even if an agency can reasonably afford to fund WiFi on buses, the planning and implementation of internet connectivity takes away from improvements on its core mission: to increase urban mobility.

Intercity buses are a different story. When you are in a single seat for more than an hour and don’t have people standing in your face, WiFi offers a real benefit. I have heard of good experiences with the WiFi on Bustang and Express Air Coach, the shuttle my friends used to take between the Chicago airports and Purdue. You could argue this extends to express intracity buses, where passengers remain seated for a longer period of time and there are fewer stops and shuffling inside the bus. I’d be curious to see the average ride length on a NYC express bus verses a non-express bus. Either way, this is not the plan. Cuomo is putting WiFi on the bus you take four blocks after getting off the F train.

From a millennial who loves buses: don’t bother with WiFi. Focus on world-class service and the people will follow.

What do you think about WiFi on buses? Are there any sides to the argument I missed? Let me know in the comments below!

For some solid coverage of the the MTA announcement, I recommend the following:

  • Benjamin Kabak calls the network connectivity on underwhelming bus service, “putting libstick on a pig”.
  • CityLab reports on a TransitCenter study about factors that would increase transit ridership by age. Access to WiFi was 12th out of 12 among those age 30 and above and 9th out of 12 for those below 30. Number one among all ages: trips on transit taking less time.

I Spot Transfort MAX Buses

If you wanted to see pictures of all six eight nine Transfort MAX buses, you are in luck! Please join me as we tour the fleet of North American Bus Industries vehicles. And no, I’m not the first person to practice bus spotting.

Aside: please raise your hand if you were also worried upon discovering the first verb in the first sentence on NABI’s Wikipedia page is in past tense. “NABI Bus, LLC (NABI) was a designer and producer of heavy-duty transit buses…” The NABI brand was discontinued in 2014 (the year the MAX opened) and its plants will now produce buses for its parent brand, New Flyer. I hope NABI spare parts were not also discontinued.

MAX 79

MAX 79 from the fleet of Transfort buses

MAX 79 departing the South Transit Center. Bus 79 was my last bus to spot and I was getting anxious. Calmer pictures to follow!

MAX 80

MAX 80 from the fleet of Transfort MAX buses

MAX 80 at the South Transit Center. This AM-sunlit platform would be clutch during my season of bus spotting.

MAX 81

MAX 81 from the fleet of Transfort MAX buses

A northbound MAX 81 crossing Olive on Mason. Again, not a bus portrait studio, but necessary for completion. This intersection would serve me well in the future…

MAX 82

MAX 82 from the fleet of Transfort MAX buses

MAX 82, also northbound at Olive and Mason. I couldn’t have produced this motion panning effect even if I tried! And I definitely didn’t. (See MAX 81.) Let’s say I was hoping to produce a neat “we’re going places” effect for a Transfort promotional.

MAX 83

MAX 83 from the fleet of Transfort MAX buses

MAX 83 back at the sun-soaked South Transit Center. This is the only known photo of my shadow with a MAX bus. Except for the other three in this set I cropped it out of.

MAX 84

MAX 84 from the fleet of Transfort buses

MAX 84 at the…you guessed it…South Transit Center with a…you guessed it…tumbleweed. #colorado

MAX 102

MAX 102 from the fleet of Transfort MAX buses

MAX 102 at the South Transit Center on a day where the snow tainted its usually-pristine livery. MAX 103 peeps in from the rear. Buses 102 and 103 were ordered after the other six, which explains the gap in the fleet numbers.

MAX 103

MAX 103 from the fleet of Transfort MAX buses

MAX 103 at the South Transit Center on the same sloppy morning. Doesn’t that sky just look cold? Bus 103 is currently the highest-numbered in the Transfort fleet.

And, a bonus…

MAX 89: “MiniMAX”

MAX 89, also known as Mini MAX, from the fleet of Transfort MAX buses

MAX 89 at the South Transit Center. Notice the lack of articulation? Because this is MiniMAX! The articulated buses are not run in the snow and this 40′ replacement is the only (that I know of) non-articulated bus with the MAX livery. It was an unexpected treat to watch the snow fall through a backwards “max” during this ride!

If you’re wondering what kind of idyllic bus world the cover image to this post is from, the answer is Adobe Lightroom. Doesn’t this better-than-real image make you want to go ride a bus?

I’ll see you there.

Ride on!

MAX 80 from the fleet of Transfort MAX buses

Cider Up! A Photo Recap from the Windy City

Each February, a few Purdue friends and I make our way to Navy Pier for Cider Summit Chicago. This was our third year of sampling fermented apples, and my second of making the weekend trip from Colorado to Chicago. I’ve included a few photos from the fantastic weekend below! They can be reasonably categorized into the following: airports, Chicago, Chicago transit, friends, friends on transit, transit in airports, and waffles.

Until next year, Cider Up! Oh, and ride on.

Denver's iconic Jeppesen Terminal pre-6am on a Saturday.

Denver’s iconic Jeppesen Terminal pre-6am on a Saturday.

I always pick a window seat, but is most rewarding flying into Chicago. Here we are looking east while making the turn towards O'Hare.

I always pick a window seat, but is most rewarding flying into Chicago. Here we are looking east while making the turn towards O’Hare.

O'Hare are we? I met Pushpinder and Dhawal in the airport and we relived one of 18 moments from our 2014 Starbucks adventure!

O’Hare are we? I met Pushpinder and Dhawal in the airport and we relived one of 18 moments from our 2014 Starbucks adventure!

Me with a Blue line train at Clinton. Subway selfies are going to be a thing!

Me with a Blue line train at Clinton. Subway selfies are going to be a thing!

Walking up to Union Station with the Willis Tower looming.

Walking up to Union Station with the Willis Tower looming.

The new protected bike lane and Loop Link station on Washington Street!

The new protected bike lane and Loop Link station on Washington Street!

Loop Link signage at Washington Street and Franklin Street.

Loop Link signage at Washington Street and Franklin Street.

I had read about the gap between the wall and cover of the Loop Link stations, but I didn't realize it was quite this drastic. Especially with Chicago winters. Hmm.

I had read about the gap between the wall and cover of the Loop Link stations, but I didn’t realize it was quite this drastic. Especially with Chicago winters. Hmm.

Macy's on State had a Chicago skyline replica made from chocolate!

Macy’s on State had a Chicago skyline replica made from chocolate!

And its L train was huge!

And its L train was huge!

Honestly, we really just rode the escalators up and down inside Macy's on State. Public transit?

Honestly, we really just rode the escalators up and down inside Macy’s on State. Public transit?

I guess I can see why the Randolph/Washington CTA station is one scheduled to be replaced by Washington/Wabash in 2017, but that doesn't mean I don't think this is neat route identification.

I guess I can see why the Randolph/Washington CTA station is one scheduled to be replaced by Washington/Wabash in 2017, but that doesn’t mean I don’t think this is neat route identification.

After exploring Macy's and listening to me ramble about Loop Link stations, my friend Jenni and I went to the Bean!

After exploring Macy’s and listening to me ramble about Loop Link stations, my friend Jenni and I went to the Bean!

Yep. There it is.

Yep. There it is.

My favorite angle!

My favorite angle!

We discovered stones and fragments in the base of the Tribune Tower! I only took photos of those from the local ballparks (correctly oriented with Wrigley's north of Comiskey's), but other structures such as the Berlin Wall, the Taj Mahal, and even the Pyramids were represented. Awesome oasis on Michigan Avenue!

We discovered stones and fragments in the base of the Tribune Tower! I only took photos of those from the local ballparks (correctly oriented with Wrigley’s north of Comiskey’s), but other structures such as the Berlin Wall, the Taj Mahal, and even the Pyramids were represented. Awesome find on Michigan Avenue!

I didn't think to look for a piece from U.S Cellular Field until now.

I didn’t think to look for a piece from U.S Cellular Field until I got home.

Blue skies at Navy Pier in February - what a surprise!

Blue skies at Navy Pier in February – what a surprise!

We made our way to the far end of Navy Pier salivating over the thought of cider.

We made our way to the far end of Navy Pier salivating over the thought of cider.

Vivek joins Pushpinder, Dhawal, and I in front of the Cider Summit banner. We took a picture with this banner (same one??) in Portland last summer!

Vivek joins Pushpinder, Dhawal, and I in front of the Cider Summit banner. We took a picture with this banner (same one??) in Portland last summer!

Jenni was excited for her first Cider Summit!

Jenni was excited for her first Cider Summit!

Purdue runs deep! Eleven total Cider Summit visits have been recorded between this hilarious bunch.

Purdue runs deep! Eleven total Cider Summit visits have been recorded between this hilarious bunch.

So many cider vendors in such a cool setting!

So many cider vendors in such a cool setting!

The pedestrian connectivity to Navy Pier is kind of sketchy, but it gets the job done!

The pedestrian connectivity to Navy Pier is kind of sketchy, but it gets the job done!

I take all my friends' pictures on transit. Here, Eric is enjoying his finger-less gloves on the southbound Red line.

I take all my friends’ pictures on transit. Here, Eric is enjoying his finger-less gloves on the southbound Red line.

Jenni made a less-than-excited transit face, but eventually couldn't contain her excitement to be riding with CTA! Eric's finger-less gloves make an appearance.

Jenni made a less-than-excited transit face, but eventually couldn’t contain her excitement to be riding with CTA! Eric’s finger-less gloves make an appearance.

LinkedIn worthy?

LinkedIn worthy?

CTA's Roosevelt station serves both an underground route (Red) and two above ground routes (Orange and Green). I'm a fan of the CTA branding!

CTA’s Roosevelt station serves both an underground route (Red) and two above ground routes (Orange and Green). I’m a fan of the CTA branding!

The idea of a train passing through a side parking lot got me excited. This one is next to Eleven City Diner, our brunch destination.

The idea of a train passing through a side parking lot got me excited. This one is next to Eleven City Diner, our brunch destination.

Okay, so this is the only photo in the waffle category. Eleven City Diner!

Okay, so this is the only photo in the waffle category.

Eleven City Diner was hopping midday Sunday!

Eleven City Diner was hopping midday Sunday!

Eric found an open house near the Hancock Tower, so went checked out an urban condo! This is the view looking north from its enormous balcony.

Eric found an open house near the Hancock Tower, so went checked out an urban condo! This is the view looking north from its enormous balcony.

We finally visited the sponsor of the Chicago Cider Summit, Binny's Beverage Depot!

We finally visited the sponsor of the Chicago Cider Summit, Binny’s Beverage Depot!

I always enjoy looking at the Chicago Board of Trade building and how it cuts off La Salle Street. The Rookery is in the foreground on the left.

I always enjoy looking at the Chicago Board of Trade building and how it cuts off La Salle Street. The Rookery is in the foreground on the left.

The Great Hall at Union Station goes pink!

The Great Hall at Union Station goes pink!

Union Station is set to receive another upgrade, but here is a marker from a 1991 concourse renovation.

Union Station is set to receive another upgrade, but here is a marker from a 1991 concourse renovation.

I took this photo on the Blue Line in hopes that the strip map would one day provide some historical insight. Until then, this is literally just a photo of two sliding doors.

I took this photo on the Blue Line in hopes that the strip map would one day provide some historical insight. Until then, this is literally just a photo of two sliding doors.

The O'Hare CTA station always gets me excited at the beginning of my trips! And sad at the end of my trips. Maybe in a few years, I'll be saying that about the O'Hare Express.

The O’Hare CTA station always gets me excited at the beginning of my trips! And sad at the end of my trips. Maybe in a few years, I’ll be saying that about the O’Hare Express.

The view from the top of the CTA station escalators at O'Hare.

The view from the top of the CTA station escalators at O’Hare.

I enjoy walking down this section near the K gates of O'Hare's terminal 3. And O'Hare's is a weird word. Two apostrophes? Really?!

I enjoy walking down this section near the K gates of O’Hare’s terminal 3. And O’Hare’s is a weird word. Two apostrophes? Really?!

I would leave Chicago with loads of fantastic memories and one sweet CTA magnet!

I would leave Chicago with loads of fantastic memories and one sweet CTA magnet!

Chicago, je t’aime.