- By kevin
- On May 18, 2018
- North America
- Travel Tips
The best way to get around Chicago is via public transportation – specifically the L train. We introduced the bus from NYC to Chicago, and the train, or you can follow the tips to travel aroung by bike. Operated by the Chicago Transit Authority, the L (short for "elevated train") is cheap and easy to use. The CTA also operates an extensive bus system with routes servicing nearly every attraction, but the bus may be difficult for newcomers to navigate.
Roughly 130 bus routes – plus multiple rush hour express routes – bring travelers to various destinations throughout the city, including many of Chicago's top attractions. Several routes operate 24 hours a day, though like the L train, most buses hit the road around 4 or 5 a.m. and call it quits between 11 p.m. and 2 a.m. Express routes are only offered on weekdays during rush hour. A single ride will cost $2.50 per person if paid in cash or $2.25 if paid using the Ventra Card. CTA day passes – which range between $10 and $28 depending on the number of days covered – are also valid for use on the bus.
On Foot & By Bike
Chicago is too big to navigate using only your own two feet. However, the Windy City's individual neighborhoods can easily be explored on foot or by bike. Chicago is laid out on a grid, making it very easy to find your way. And the city's Divvy bike-share system allows you to grab a set of wheels whenever you need them (there are hundreds of stations around the city). Divvy day passes cost $15; single rides cost $3. If you're visiting during the winter, you'll want to bring plenty of layers to protect you from the notoriously low temperatures, and keep in mind that heavy snowfall can make wintertime biking impossible.
Although most L train stops are elevated as the system's name implies, not all of the Chicago subway network's eight lines run above ground. Identified by colors (red, blue, brown, green, orange, purple, pink and yellow), the L system provides extensive and speedy service to 145 stations around town (including the city's two airports). Two L lines – the Blue Line between downtown and O'Hare International Airport and the Red Line that runs north to south through downtown – operate 24 hours a day. Trains along the other six routes typically start running around 4 or 5 a.m. and continue operating until any time between 11 p.m. and 2 a.m., depending on the line and the day of the week.
Standard one-way fares cost $2.50 per person, but if you're planning to rely on the L, you'll probably want to purchase a one- or multi-day pass. One-day passes are $10, three-day passes cost $20 and seven-day passes will set you back $28. You can also fork over $5 for a Ventra Card, a reloadable transportation card that's valid on both L trains and buses. You can purchase or add money to Ventra Cards at the vending machines found in all L stations.