Public Transit Accessibility! The upside of flying into Chicago O’Hare International Airport.
There are several options for taking public transportation when visiting Chicago. I would be hard pressed to not be able to get where I needed to go using the city’s public transit system. That stated, I will attempt to give an introduction to the system that should help give confidence that using public transportation in Chicago is your best option.
As most people know there are two major options for flying into the Chicago Area. These include Chicago O’Hare International Airport (ORD) and Chicago Midway Airport (MDW). The best thing about these airports is they are both connected all the way to downtown by Chicago Transit Authority Trains. They are also connected to Chicago’s suburbs by the PACE Bus . This blog will deal with the cheap travel options specifically for the Chicago O’Hare International Airport.
Traveling to Downtown Chicago
Chicago O’Hare International Airport is approximately 20 miles NW of downtown. The CTA Blue Line services this airport. Travel time from the airport to downtown is approximately 1 hour. Once you have landed in Chicago there are tons of signs directing you towards the train station. Be aware that there is a significant walk from the baggage claim to the train station, which can be confusing if it is your first time. There are plenty of signs, but if you need help just ask. When you get to the ticket machines you’ll need to buy a transit card for $2. If you plan to transfer, it makes sense to pay an additional 25 cents that allows two additional rides within two hours after the first boarding. If you plan to use public transportation all day, just buy the day pass for $5 and you wonâ€™t have anything to worry about. For comparison the cheapest shuttle I know of costs $25 to get downtown and taxi will cost $35 dollars. Remember that you can always take the train close to where you plan to go and then take a cab the rest of the way.
Once you arrive downtown you can transfer to a variety of other CTA Train Lines. Rather than delving into which lines go to which universities and hospitals, I would suggest using the Trip Planner for official detailed directions.
Transfer to Metra
Metra is a regional rail system that serves the city of Chicago and surrounding suburbs. The railroad serves over 200 stations on 11 different rail lines across Northern Illinois. This train travel to suburbs such as Aurora, Wheaton and North Chicago. Transfers can be made easily from CTA trains to Metra trains in the downtown area. In the following section more detailed and complicated directions explain how connection to several Metra train lines can be made by bus. . Connecting directly to one of these lines rather that going downtown to catch the train from its origin may significantly reduce your travel time.
Taking the PACE Bus.
There are two specific Pace bus routes that run from Chicago O’Hare’s Kiss-n-Fly Station to the suburbs of Chicago. The important point is that these buses make connections with four of the Metra regional rail lines. Connecting directly to one of these lines rather that going downtown to catch the train from its origin may significantly reduce your travel time.
The PACE 330 Bus makes stops at the Mannheim Metra Station on the Milwaukee District Line, the Bellwood Metra Station on the Union Pacific Line and the LaGrange Metra Station on the Burlington Northern Santa Fe Line.
The PACE 250 Bus makes a stop at the Des Plaines Metra Station on the Union Pacific-Northwest Line. You can use the trip planner to coordinate your travel plans between the bus, the train and our final destination. Adult fare for any bus trip is $1.50.
In order to get to the Chicago O’Hare’s Kiss-n-Fly Station you need to hop on the Airport Transit System (ATS). This is a quick, convenient, and economical way to get around the airport. The ATS is a free, 24-hour rail system that operates between the three domestic terminals, the international terminal, long-term parking, and the Kiss-N-Fly Station. Maximum travel time on this automated train is 9 minutes.
Lastly, if you take the ATA to Kiss-N-Fly station there is a free shuttle that connects to the Metra North Central Line as well.
Due to the fact that there are so many transit options it is much easier if you use the trip planner to find out where you need to go. Simply type in your destination from the airport and the planner can show you the way.