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Chicago

Illinois, USA (America)


Date of opening6 Jun 1892
Network length166 km (103.17 mi)
Stations152 (144*)
Lines8
Stations per line19.00
Avg. station distance1,153 m (0.72 mi)
Avg. line length20.75 km (12.90 mi)
*with transfer stations counted once
Numerical data by J. Serradell, 18 Nov 2012
151 Stations and 173 km (UrbanRail.net)
System typemetro (known as "L")
Daily ridership (by J. Kennes)608,000 (2011)
Daily ridership per km (per mi)3,660 (2,280)
Fare (10 km/10 stops; by UBS)1.58 EUR (2009); gates, smartcard
24-hour operationEvery night: Red Line, Blue Line
TrackRight, gauge: 1435 mm
Power supplyThird rail, 600 V
Air-conditioned trainsYes
Walk-through trainsNo
Rubber-tyred trainsNo
Driverless linesNo
Platform screen doorsNo
World Metro Database




Official map
Source: pdf, © 2010 transitchicago.com


To-scale map
Source: cityrailtransit.com

Disclaimer: Maps are copyrighted. The previews on this page are for informational purposes only. Please respect copyright and always refer to original maps.




Upcoming Openings

Dec 2014 – Cermak-McCormick Place infill station on the Green Line. 1 station.




Guided Tours

Tours of the metro system, guided by experts. For dates and reservation contact the tour operator or check their website.

Free tours on Chicago's architecture. A historic subway train circles the Loop several times, while an expert explains skyscrapers and other impressive buildings. Very popular, queue for tickets at the Tourist Office the same day. Tours suspended in 2009/2010. Tour operator: CTA (subway operator) and Chicago Architecture Foundation.




Self-Guided Tour

Try the following tour, recommended by residents or metro enthusiasts:

The famous downtown subway Loop runs through urban canyons and provides spectacular views of the world's first and most famous skyscrapers. Stop at Quincy station as it has been restored inside and outside to its original appearance of 1897. Jackson, Monroe, and Washington underground stations on the Blue Line have a long common platform. You can walk along that platform from station to station, which is very special. The same is true for the stations of the same name on the Red Line one block further east. The modern O'Hare station on the Blue Line with its illuminated glass walls was designed by Helmut Jahn, who also built the Unites Airlines Terminal.





Abandoned Lines

Chicago has lost a number of suburban sections of its elevated network over the years, only some of which were replaced by new subway lines operating in vaguely the same areas. Chicago had a full-scale elevated railroad within a World's Fair site in the 1890s, which didn't last very long. A streetcar or tram tunnel has been partly or wholly abandoned.




Relationships with Other Metros

VAL family
Members: Chicago (O'Hare Airport people mover), Lille, Paris (Orlyval, CDGVal airport trains), Rennes, Taipei, Toulouse, Turin, Uijeongbu,
Characteristics: Sleek, small, automated, rubber-tyred metros. Platforms are usually short and have platform screen doors.





Reaching the Beaches

Lake Michigan: Many beaches are within ten minutes walking distance of the Red or Purple line stations, which both run parallel to the shore on the North Side of the city. Bryn Mawr and Thorndale are very close (about a quarter mile). Clark/Division on the Red line is a half mile from Oak Street beach. Davis on the Purple line is about a half mile from Evanston beach.
Lake Michigan: Chicago's Metra system takes you to Illinois Beach State Park through the Zion and Withrop Harbor stations on the Union Pacific/North Line. Also, on the South Shore Line, you can access the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore.




Lines with a View

The coolest view from a train to Midway is as it makes the turn at 54th and Knox, just a few blocks from the little airport. The L tracks have to go over the Belt RR tracks and occasionally there will be a plane landing on the runway that's parallel to the L. The train is actually higher than the plane.
The downtown Loop is located amidst the world's first and most famous skyscraper buildings. Randolph-Wabash station is on the Loop.

Photo by chicago-l.org
LaSalle/Van Buren station on the Loop.

Photo by metrobits.org
A Brown Line train on the Wells Street bridge (a drawbridge) across the Chicago River.

Photo by Yuri Popov , www-personal.umich.edu




Circle Lines

Pan-shaped loop - different lines - 3.2 km - 9 stations - completed 1897 - The Loop.
Proposed ring - Circle line - 20 km - 22 stations - to be completed 2015.




Departure Procedure and Sounds

A very friendly, pre-recorded male voice talks almost permanently to the passengers: "[Ding-dong] doors closing" (wav from chicago-l.org). "... Adams and Wabash is next. Doors open on the right at Adams and Wabash. Transfer to Green, Purple, and Brown Line trains at Adams and Wabash" (wav from chicago-l.org). "... This is Adams and Wabash. Transfer to Green, Purple, and Brown Line trains at Adams and Wabash. This is an Orange line train to Midway." And sometimes, one of the following is being added: "Standing passengers: please do not lean against the doors.", "Priority seating is intended for the elderly and passengers with disabilities. Your cooperation is requested.", "Soliciting on CTA trains is prohibited. Violators will be arrested.", "Smoking, littering, and playing radios or loud devices is prohibited.", "Your attention please. We are being delayed because crews are working on the track ahead. We expect to be moving shortly.", "Your attention please: We are being delayed, waiting for signals ahead. We expect to be moving shortly.", "Thank you for riding the CTA Orange Line." (chicago-l.org).





Metro Movies

Films with scenes set on this metro:

1977: 11 x 14, this experimental feature starts off with a wonderful 10-minute static shot facing the track on the "El" as it travels south to the Loop.
1983: Risky Business
1987: Adventures in Babysitting
1993: The Fugitive
1995: While You Were Sleeping




Handpicked Resources

chicago-l.orgThe 'L'.
transitchicago.com Official website



Generated Links for Chicago "L"

Line history (cityrailtransit.com)
Photos (images.google.com)
Maps (images.google.com)
Wikipedia entry (wikipedia.org)
Urbanrail.net entry (urbanrail.net)
Skyscrapercity discussion (skyscrapercity.com)
City information about Chicago (wikipedia.org)






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