Chicago Subay Map (CTA) – Timetable, Tickets & Prices

Chicago Transport Authority (CTA) – The Subway network

The subway system in Chicago, also known as Chicago Elevated and popularly known simply as the “L”, is not actually a pure metro system. Rather, it is an elevated and subway system, as is typical for many cities in the United States of America. Founded in 1892, the Chicago metro is now the second oldest metro of its kind in the USA after the Boston subway and ranks third in terms of size.

The eight lines that can be found on the Chicago Metro Map extend over a total length of 170.8 kilometers through the entire city, with only 19.5 kilometers running in tunnels. The rest of the route is either at ground level (59 km) or elevated. The so-called “Loop” is characteristic of the Chicago Metro. This is an elevated rail ring, which can also be recognized at first glance on the Chicago Metro Map. This central ring line runs through the center of the city and allows passengers to transfer between five of the eight lines.

The Chicago Subway lines at a glance

  • Red Line (Howard ↔ Ashland)
  • Orange Line (Midway Airport ↔ Adams / Wabash)
  • Yellow Line (Dempster-Skokie ↔ Howard)
  • Green Line (Harlem/Lake ↔ Cottag Grove / Ashland)
  • Blue Line (O’Hare Airport ↔ Forest Park)
  • Purple Line (Linden ↔ Washington / Wells)
  • Brown Line (Kimball ↔ Clark / Lake)
  • Pink Line (54th / Cermak ↔ Washington / Wells)

Information for tourists about the Chicago Metro

Chicago embodies the typical American attitude to life like almost no other city. This is due in no small part to the city’s location and appearance between skyscrapers, dense forests and the expanse of Lake Michigan. So it’s no wonder that more and more people are being drawn to the north of the US state of Illinois, who in turn also have to deal with the Metro Plan. After all, it is the second most popular means of transportation in the city after the Chicago bus lines.

Tourists in particular have to get used to the line names on the Chicago Metro Map. Unlike in Europe, these are not clearly numbered or named, but are simply marked with a color, as is typical in many places in the USA. Nevertheless, orientation is easy, as the central loop makes it possible to change to the most important lines, which run from there in all directions and thus connect the center with the outskirts.

Chicago Subway (CTA) Tickets & Prices

While ticket systems elsewhere in the world are characterized by different fare zones or staggered mileage, the Americans are very pragmatic. Chicago relies on all-inclusive prices for metro tickets, which is particularly popular with guests from abroad who first have to find their way around the city on Lake Michigan. The most frequently used ticket for the Chicago “L” is the one-way ticket, which entitles the holder to two further single journeys within two hours for an additional 25 US cents.

Season tickets are very popular with both frequent travelers and tourists. They entitle the holder to any number of journeys on the underground, elevated trains and city buses within the period of validity. Season tickets are available in the form of day tickets, multi-day tickets and monthly tickets. All tickets are also available in a discounted version. This discount is available to students, children between the ages of 7 and 11 and people aged 65 and over. However, the operating company Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) does not offer a classic tourist ticket with discounts such as free admission to museums.

The most important metro tickets in Chicago

TicketPricesBuy a ticket
Single ridefrom 2.25 $available on-site
Single ride (reduced)from 1.10 $available on-site
Daily ticket (24h)from 10.00 $available on-site
Daily ticket (72h)from 20.00 $available on-site
Weekly ticket (7 Days)from 28.00 $available on-site
Monthly ticketfrom 100.00 $available on-site
Airport-Transferfrom 5.00 $available on-site
Airport-Transfer (reduced)from 1.10 $available on-site

The main point of contact for Metro tickets are the ticket machines located on the platforms of Metro stations. In addition to one-way tickets and day passes, Ventra tickets can also be purchased there. Ventra cards are payment cards that can be topped up with credit. They therefore serve as an electronic ticket once the corresponding option has been purchased.

The card can be topped up at ticket machines, via online banking, credit card, at the operating company’s service points or with alternative payment methods such as Apple Pay and Android Pay. The Ventra app can also be used to buy mobile tickets for the Chicago metro. The tickets are validated when passing through the electronic access barriers to the platforms.

Chicago subway schedule

The eight lines on the Chicago Metro Map have individual travel times depending on the frequency of the route. Particularly busy lines such as the Brown Line or the Green Line start operating at around 4:00 a.m. on weekdays and run until around 1:00 a.m. or 2:00 a.m. at night. At weekends and during vacations, however, service on most lines only starts one hour later at around 5:00 am. Less busy lines, such as the Yellow Line, only start operating at 6:00 a.m. during the week and at weekends and make their last journey at around 11:00 p.m.

Another special feature of the Chicago Metro is the 24-hour operation of the Red Line and the Blue Line seven days a week. The frequency of the trains is 3 to 6 minutes during rush hour and increases to 8 to 15 minutes into the night, depending on the line. Night owls who do not have enough time on the subway can either use Chicago cabs or the “Night Owl” buses, which run between around midnight and 5:00 am. The night bus routes can be recognized by the capital letter “N”.

To the timetables of the Chicago subway lines:

Red Line, Orange Line, Yellow Line, Green Line, Blue Line, Purple Line, Brown Line, Pink Line

Further information on the Chicago subway

Since the Chicago subway is as much a part of the cityscape as the Eiffel Tower is to Paris, the Statue of Liberty to New York and the Brandenburg Gate to Berlin, it is no wonder that the subway system can also be seen in numerous film productions.

Film fans will therefore be familiar with the metro from films such as “May I please?” with Richard Gere (2004), “The Blues Brothers” (1980), “While You Were Sleeping” (1995) and “On the Run” with Tommy Lee Jones from 1993.

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