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CTA Holiday train at night
Photograph: Courtesy CTA

Check out the CTA Holiday Train and Bus schedule for 2021

The festive modes of public transportation will be welcoming visitors back on board this year.

Zach Long
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Zach Long
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Passengers weren't allowed on the Chicago Transit Authority's annual Holiday Train and Bus last year, but we have good news for anyone who wants to take a ride on the festive modes of public transportation. You'll be able to get on board the CTA's holiday fleet this year, beginning on Friday, November 26 when the Holiday Train makes its first run and continuing on Tuesday, November 30 when the Holiday Bus begins rolling throughout the city.

As usual, the six-car Holiday Train will tour train lines throughout Chicago between now and December 22, with Santa and his reindeer along for the ride. Decorated with shimmering lights and LED signs, the festive train can be located by using the CTA Train Tracker—just keep an eye out for the candy cane icon that marks its arrival. Here's the schedule for the Holiday Train's tour of the CTA's rail lines (the train typically runs in the afternoon):

  • Green Line: November 26, 27 and 30
  • Brown Line: December 1-4
  • Orange Line: November 26, 28, December 1-4
  • Red Line: December 7, 9 and 11
  • Purple Line: December 8, 10 and 11
  • Pink Line: December 14 and 15
  • Blue Line: December 16-18
  • Yellow Line: December 22

On December 5 and 12, the CTA will also run a Holiday Train Loop-Shuttle, sending the decorated train around the Loop for several hours. Guests will be able to board at elevated platforms throughout the Loop and take in the scenery of the city from inside the decked-out train.

CTA Holiday Bus
Photograph: Courtesy CTA

The CTA Holiday Bus will once again be decorated as Ralphie the Reindeer, complete with antlers and a green nose on the front of the bus. If the holiday music that blasts from the 60-foot bus doesn't tip you off, the sight of Santa waving through the roof hatch of the bus should (you can also find its location using the CTA Bus Tracker). The CTA Holiday bus will travel the following routes during the afternoon:

  • November 30, December 1: #56 Milwaukee
  • December 2: #77 Belmont
  • December 3: #22 Clark
  • December 4: #22 Clark/#97 Skokie
  • December 7-8: #66 Chicago
  • December 9 : #126 Jackson
  • December 10-11: #12 Roosevelt
  • December 14-15: #62 Archer
  • December 16: #49 Western/#X49 Western Express
  • December 17: #79 79th
  • December 18: #3 King Drive
  • December 21: #28 Stony Island
  • December 22: #29 State
  • December 23: #J14 Jeffery Jump

If you're planning on riding the CTA Holiday Train or Bus, you'll need to remember to wear a mask and maintain as much distance from other riders as possible. Strollers will not be allowed on Holiday Trains or Buses this year and there will be no pictures with Santa. Additionally, if a Holiday Train or Bus becomes too crowded, the driver may not stop to pick up additional passengers.

Best of luck to those going out in search of a ride on the Holiday Train or Bus this year. And if you happen to encounter one of the festive rides during your regular commute, you can always choose to embrace the spirit of the season (or wait for the next bus or train). 

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