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Chicago transit guide

Before you hop on that bus or train, plan your trip on Chicago transit with information about El stations, Ventra and more


Posted: Thursday February 26 2015


Photograph: Daniel Schwen
Chicago transit such as buses will get you where you need to go. Eventually.

If you're looking for a way to get around the city, you can always take a cab or drive, but the cheapest way to and from the Loop and everywhere it leads is to hop on a bus or a train. Plan your trip in by keeping up to date with CTA projects, Ventra hiccups and everything else you need to know about Chicago transit.

The latest Chicago transit news

High-speed rail project from O'Hare to Chicago in the works

A high-speed rail project would connect O'Hare to downtown Chicago, Rockford, Champaign and beyond.

Say goodbye to the Madison/Wabash El station

One of the city's most depressing El stations closed for good on Monday. 

CTA to host concert series outside of El stops in June

Your evening commute during the second and third weeks of June is going to be way more interesting.

Red light cameras are a pain, but speed cameras are much worse

On Sunday, Mayor Rahm Emananuel announced that the city will remove 50 red light cameras at 25 intersections and that those cameras would no longer be issuing citations as of Friday, March 6. 

5 CTA projects to look out for this year

The Chicago Transit Authority is notorious for delays and finding various ways to nudge riders towards the edge. 

What to eat, see and do off the new Green Line stop

As much as we rag on the CTA, it's always exciting when a fresh station opens up. It doesn't happen too often

CTA will test late-evening Purple Line Express service

The CTA has announced plans to extend Purple Line Express service to the evening this summer.

A look into crime on the CTA in 2014

Mayor Rahm Emanuel's office published a press release touting a reduction in crime on the CTA. 

Ben Larrison: the man behind the #SquirrelTruth CTA ads

Ben Larrison, the man behind the '#SquirrelTruth' ads on the Red line. 

CTA fares won't be raised in 2015

Good news, commuters: The CTA unveiled its proposed 2015 budget early this morning, revealing that fares and passes will remain frozen at their current prices

The city wants to create a taxi app

Now that Hailo has officially pulled out of the U.S., the city of Chicago wants to throw its hat into the taxi-hailing smartphone app ring

CTA announces closure dates for California and Damen Blue Line stations

If you're a Logan Square, Bucktown or Wicker Park resident who relies on the Blue Line, you can expect your daily commute to get a little longer this fall

No more vaping at CTA rail stations

If you're gonna smoke an e-cigarette in public, you'll have to do it outside

Chicago transit features

The 5 worst intersections in Chicago

There are loads of terrible intersections throughout the city. Here are some of the worst that we're aware of.  

A complete guide to the 606

For years, the Bloomingdale Trail was an unused elevated train line, riddled with weeds and broken bottles. After some extensive rennovations, it's now Chicago's very first elevated park: The 606. Connecting Logan Square, Humbolt Park, Wicker Park and Bucktown, the path provides pedestrians and cyclists with easy access to some of the city's best restaurants, bars, music venues and more. Ready to explore? We've put together a complete guide to the very stuff you'll find along the 606.

Quiz: Which CTA El station is this?

Whether you love or loathe the CTA, as a Chicagoan you probably spend plenty of time riding the El. But have you ever stopped to really notice the art on display at CTA stations?  Try to guess the correct station for each of these 20 photos of CTA art and see how you fare... // $(document).ready(function(){ $('input:radio').change(function(){ var $this = $(this); $this.closest('.qanda').find('div.selectedstatus').removeClass('selectedstatus'); $this.closest('.answer').addClass('selectedstatus'); }); }); // 1) Okay, here we go! Which busy station is this? Fullerton Belmont Clark/Lake 2) How about this one on the way out to Midway? Pulaski Kedzie 35th/Archer 3) These dates seem significant. But why? Addison Cermak-Chinatown Sox-35th 4) This Pink platform's pretty arty - where is it found? Western California Kedzie 5) Where does this mosaic welcome green thumbs? Conservatory-Central Park Drive (Green) Central Park (Pink) Garfield (Green) 6) Speaking of Green Line greenery. Garfield Conservatory-Central Park Drive Oak Park 7) That's a scenic climb. Where the heck are we? UIC-Halsted Logan Square Roosevelt 8) This vaguely vulgar sculpture sits outside the Brown Line. Where? Kedzie Kimball Francisco 9) Staying on the Brown, we're turning this one on its side to make it tougher. Rockwell Kedzie Western 10) Brown again. The answer is in ther

You can rent out a private CTA train for $1,800

We’ve all been there. You’re waiting for a train with your friends in the wee hours of the morning and a completely empty train car rolls up. It’s every commuters dream—your own mobile playhouse. But hey, why wait until 3am when you can spend your whole evening living it up on a train? For $1,800 you can charter your own personal two-car CTA train. Trains can be chartered anytime except weekday rush hours (6–9am, 3–6pm) and cars can hold up to 35 people. Food, non-alcoholic drinks, sound systems and live music are all allowed on the train. DIY house shows are cool and all, but a DIY train rave trumps everything. Crisscrossing the city while listening to music seems like a pretty killer Saturday night. Trains will also drop you off wherever you want and pick you up later. Never has traveling from the Double Door to the Green Mill been easier. And yes, I know what you are thinking, what about a wedding? According to Bill Reilly, Rail Operations CPO, a couple who met on the train are set to have their wedding on the train in a few months. For more information on chartering a train click here.

Historic photos of Chicago trains and buses

Take a ride back in time on the green and cream CTA buses, trains, trolleys (and horses!) from Chicago's public transportation past

2014's best People of the CTA photos

One of the best (and worst) things about Chicago transit is that all kinds of people from different walks of life—sometimes different planets—are huddled together in one small car, all just trying to get someplace. We've documented the 19 people you'll see on the CTA, but the Facebook page People of the CTA does one better: Every damn day, it posts shots of characters encountered on our trains and busses, people who probably should have just stayed home that day. Our People of the CTA friends were kind enough to sift through all of those alarming, funny, confounding photos and choose the eight best of the year. Enjoy. RECOMMENDED: See more best of 2014 lists

The 19 people you'll see on the CTA

All kinds of bizarre people ride our buses and trains, but these are the most common characters you'll see—and attempt to avoid

The 6 best and 6 worst El stations

Some CTA stops make us happy to ride the train, other make us angrier than a tourist trying to reload a Ventra card

Art in Chicago's subways

Andy Paczos blazes a trail for painting in Chicago's subways

CTA train operator Michael Powell

Chicago's most popular train conductor keeps his passengers looking on the bright side

Avoid the CTA O’Hare surcharge

How to beat the Blue Line fare increase from the airport