He's written a full account of the challenge for Chicago Now who say: "I love his account because Adham sees things so much differently than us folks who have been in Chicago for awhile. He noticed things that only out-of-towners might - things we residents take for granted."
Adham said "I started my public transport quests by riding most bus routes in and around my home city of Leicester, United Kingdom. More recently, I have tried eight times to break the official Guinness World Record for visiting every station on the London Underground (Tube) as quickly as possible - informally known as the Tube Challenge.
New York is the only other city where one can set an official record of this type (and I have not even thought about that one yet), but I have continued to visit every station or stop on various underground, bus, train and tram networks when I can and time my runs, just for fun."
Here's some of the things I found most interesting about Adham's quest.
"I ask a staff member about tickets. I decide on the one I want and am poised to buy it from a machine with cash, before she tells me that the machines do not accept cash.
CTA, you need to work on that. As I am trying to avoid extortionate card charges wherever possible, she sends me across the road to buy the pass from a supermarket. Upon my return, I reveal the reason behind my many questions and strange manner - I have come from England to visit every L station in one day.
The lady is incredulous, as is the man behind me at the barrier. Perhaps this public transport fortitude is a British thing and Americans do not possess it. Apart from in New York, maybe. There is an official record there, after all. Currently 22 hours, 52 minutes and 36 seconds, in case you were wondering."
Actually even in London there are many people who would raise their eyebrows at people wanting to complete subway challenges. I was amazed that people flew over from other parts of Europe and the US to complete London Tube Challenges.
Adham also notes "During the journey, I also will hear the voice announce such things as:
"This is [station], as far as this train goes" as opposed to the more direct and business-like "This train terminates here."
"Eating is prohibited on all CTA vehicles" - a strange rule as I do see some vending machines on the system.
And "Gambling is not allowed," which gives me the image of someone trying to run an illegal casino in a subway carriage. At least I do not see anyone soliciting, as reported on CTA Tattler."
No eating!!!!! Come on. No smelly food I can understand, but no eating, what's wrong with eating a sweet or something that's not going to cause a mess?
More from Adham who says "I see two Chicago Police officers. Their department patrols the L regularly in addition to CTA staff, and issues fines on the spot if they see someone engaging in illegal or dangerous activities, like walking between rail cars via the end doors. In Europe, that happens all the time and no one cares. But I do wonder if I will be reprimanded for "suspicious behavior" (CTA host), taking photographs of every station name. Thankfully, I am not."
Since the 7/7 attacks there has been a bigger police presence on the Tube and immediately afterward people were stopped (me included) for taking pictures. There's fewer police around now, whatever Boris might say about increasing BTP presence and like Adham, I bet a police person wouldn't stop you from walking through carriage using the end doors.
Part two of Adham's account is here and he travelled through every L station in a time of 9 hours, 36 minutes and 33 seconds. I'd like to thank him for sending me his report to share here.
If you've got time, take a look at the heated comments from readers in Chicago.
Like when most foreigners abroad comment on a transport system people use every day, local commuters get remarkably defensive when seeing their "suddenly beloved" system seemingly criticised. A similar thing happened to me on my first foray onto New York's subway a few years back. In a nutshell I concluded that NYC's was great for having air conditioned trains, but London's Tube Map is loads better than New York's, our stations are generally in much better condition and their platform indicators were really confusing, specially when I was trying to be quick in the rush hour.
"But she doesn't know this", "How can she call herself a subway expert when she couldn't understand that" was the response I got from a lot of New Yorkers on Metafilter. It's funny how used we get to travelling on our own subways and travelling on ones overseas usually makes us appreciate our own more - while realising the subtle advantages of other systems.