Save a "Combination Rider!"

Chicago's unified transit system combines the convenience of city-wide surface routes with the speed of rapid transit service for transfer riders!

You don't have to live near an "L" or subway station to enjoy traffic-free, weather-free rapid transit service.

Start your trip on CTA surface routes in your own neighborhood...transfer at the nearest "L" or subway station...use rapid transit for the longer part of your ride.

Be a "combination rider!" Enjoy the advantages of rapid transit service! You'll find it relaxing...and you'll cut many minutes from your travel time as you ride above or below street congestion on fast "L" or subway trains!

YOU CAN HELP INSURE GOOD TRANSIT SERVICE following these three simple suggestions:

1. Please Have Exact Fare Ready
Everyone benefits when you have exact fare ready before boarding buses, or when entering a rapid transit station. Making change is a time-consuming process which delays boarding and slows down service for you as well as your fellow passengers.

2. Don't Block Entrance and Exit Doors
Please stand clear of entrance and exit doors of all transit vehicles. Faster boarding and alighting means better service for everyone.

3. Shop Between 10 A.M. and 4 P.M.
You'll find transit service faster and more comfortable for shopping trips if you travel between 10 A.M. and 4 P.M. Shop midday whenever's more comfortable for you, and enables you to avoid the heavy "rush hour" travel.

Thank You


Who Operates It? The Chicago Transit Board which consists of seven members. Four are appointed by the Mayor of Chicago with the advice and consent of the City Council. Three are appointed by the Governor of Illinois with the advice and consent of the State Senate. Each appointment by the Mayor must be approved by the Governor, and each appointment by the Governor must be approved by the Mayor. The board elects a chairman from its own membership. Top operating officer of the system is the general manager.

Who Owns It? CTA is a municipal corporation. It is separate and apart from all federal, state, and local governmental agencies. It is self-regulating, subject only to the provisions of the Metropolitan Transit Authority Act which created the Authority. Its extensive modernization program is being financed through the sale of bonds and equipment notes to private investors who receive only a fixed rate of interest on their investment in CTA. Revenue from riders retires these securities. When all indebtedness has been liquidated, the ownership of CTA will rest with the people of Chicago and the Metropolitan area.

What Is Its Responsibility? CTA is charged with the responsibility of providing convenient, attractive local transit service at cost. It has no power to tax. The CTA's principal source of revenue is from fares paid by riders.

Excerpted from the Chicago Transit Authority's "Chicago Transit Map," June 1963.

The original name of the band now called Chicago, as well as the title of their first album, released in 1969:
"The name of this endeavor is simply 'The Chicago Transit Authority.' For the last thirteen months, these seven individuals have performed in Chicago, Los Angeles, and San Francisco as the C. T. A."1:
Daniel Seraphine, drums
James Pankow, trombone
Peter Cetera, bass and lead vocals
Walter Parazider, woodwinds and background vocals
Lee Loughnane, trumpet and background vocals
Terry Kath, guitar and lead vocals
Robert Lamm, keyboard and lead vocals
(James William Guercio, producer)

Disc One
  1. Introduction(Kath)
  2. Does anybody really know what time it is? (Lamm)
  3. Beginnings (Lamm)
  4. Questions 67 & 68 (Lamm)
  5. Listen (Lamm)
  6. Poem 58 (Lamm)
Disc Two
  1. Free Form Guitar (instrumental) (J W Guercio)
  2. South California Purples (instrumental) (Lamm)
  3. I'm a Man (Winwood/Miller)
  4. Prologoue: August 29, 1968 (J W Guercio)
  5. Someday (August 29, 1968) (Pankow/Lamm)
  6. Liberation (Pankow)

The opening notes of the Introduction are a religious experience: we are presented with a new sound, merging jazz and rock. Our appetites are whetted, and we are not disappointed.

On the second disk, we are given two experiments in sound, and a passable cover of a Spencer Davis Group hit. Finally, we are reminded of the tragic, violent events of August 29, 1968, when the Chicago Police Department turned itself loose on a crowd of anti-Vietnam War protesters outside the Democratic National Convention.

The whole world is watching...The whole world is watching...The whole world is watching...The whole world is watching...

Sadly, the band's first album was to be the pinnacle of their musical achievement.
1liner notes, written by J W Guercio

Chicago Transit Authority

Not to be confused with the band, the CTA is Chicago's mass transit system. A division of the RTA, the CTA is the nation's second-largest public transit system, serving the city itself, as well as some 40 suburbs. The CTA operates over 100 bus routes, as well as a light-rail service, commonly called the l or el, which is short for elevated. In addition, the CTA provides Paratransit van service to disabled riders. Currently, 125 of the 143 bus routes are fully accessible (though lift malfunctions are disturbingly common), and work is being done to renovate all of the train lines so that they are ADA-compliant. Travel information for the entire RTA system can be obtained by calling 836.7000 from any local area code (773, 312, 847, 708, 630), 1.888.YOUR.CTA, or by visiting

Train Lines

The CTA runs seven different train lines, with color-coded names. The following lists these lines, their endpoints (with their location in the city, relative to State and Madison) and any other relevant information.

  • Green Line (Formerly Lake Street-Jackson Park-Englewood)
  • Orange Line
  • Purple Line (Formerly Evanston and Evanston Express/Evanston Shoppers Special)
  • Purple Line Express - Local from Linden to Howard, Express to Belmont, Local to Loop
    • Linden (500N-400W-Wilmette Coordinates!)
    • Loop (200N to 400S and 200W to 44E) Downtown - Transfer at various stations to all lines except Yellow
  • Yellow Line (Formerly Skokie Swift)

  • Fares

    On 1 January, 2006, in response to budget problems, the CTA raised cash fares and eliminated cash transfers. The resulting fare system is significantly more complicated than previous systems, with different fares for method of payment and whether one is travelling via bus or rail. The following table shows the curent CTA fares:

    |                        |               |               |               |
    |    Method of Payment   |  First Ride   |  First Ride   |   Transfer    |
    |        Full Fare       |    On Bus     |    On Rail    |               |
    |                        |               |               |               |
    |          Cash          |               |     $2.00     |               |
    | (Bills or Coins Only,  |     $2.00     | Purchase From |     None      |
    | $1 Coins are accepted  |               | Transit Card  |    Offered    |
    |     no pennies)        |               |Vending Machine|               |
    |      Transit Card      |               |               |               |
    |   (Magnetic Stripe,    |     $1.75     |     $2.00     |     $0.25     |
    |   purchased at train   |               |               |               |
    |       stations)        |               |               |               |
    |    Chicago Card and    |               |               |               |
    |    Chicago Card Plus   |     $1.75     |     $1.75     |     $0.25     |
    |  (Smart Card, requires |               |               |               |
    |      registration)     |               |               |               |
    |                        |               |               |               |
    |    Method of Payment   |  First Ride   |  First Ride   |   Transfer    |
    |      Reduced Fare      |    On Bus     |    On Rail    |               |
    |                        |               |               |               |
    |          Cash          |               |     $0.85     |               |
    | (Bills or Coins Only,  |     $1.00     |  Get Reduced  |     None      |
    | $1 Coins are accepted  |               |  Transit Card |    Offered    |
    |     no pennies)        |               | From Attendant|               |
    |      Transit Card      |               |               |               |
    |   (Magnetic Stripe,    |     $0.85     |     $0.85     |     $0.15     |
    |   purchased at train   |               |               |               |
    |       stations)        |               |               |               |

    The reasoning behind this new fare structure is to encourage more riders to use the CTA's smart cards (Chicago Card and Chicago Card Plus), which are more cost-effective for the CTA. However, this is likely to create problems for occasional riders. Rail turnstiles no longer accept cash; cash fares for rail must be purchased through the rail station's fare card vending machine, or in the case of reduced fare, the rider must get a special card from the station attendent (most reduced fare rider's permits double as fare cards, so this is not much of an issue). Critics have also complained that raising cash fares will hurt low-income riders. The CTA maintains that many of its low-income riders use multi-day passes (which are usually a better option for almost anyone), and the price of those passes is the same as it was before the fare hike:

    • 30-Day Full Fare Pass: $75 ($2.50 per day)
    • 30-Day Reduced Fare Pass: $35 (About $1 per day)
    • 7-Day Full Fare Pass: $20 (Less than $3 per day)
    • 1-Day Visitor Pass: $5
    • 2-Day Visitor Pass: $9
    • 3-Day Visitor Pass: $12
    • 5-Day Visitor Pass: $18

    Passes are available from a number of locations. The O'Hare and Midway rail stations have special vending machines that sell these passes. The 30- and 7-day passes can also be purchased at certain stores in the city. All passes can also be purchased at the CTA's website. For large groups (15 or more), you can contact the CTA by calling 1-888-YOUR-CTA to arrange to buy visitor passes in bulk, as well as to receive transit maps, custom transit itenaries, and to ensure that the CTA is prepared to accomadate your group.

    Paratransit, the CTA's van service for disabled riders, is about to be run by Pace, the suburban bus-only public transit company. The CTA's fares are $1.75 per ride, and $75 for a 30-day pass, but these are expected to incrase when Pace takes over the service.

    More information about CTA fares, including a detailed list of transit card, Chicago Card, and multi-day pass vendors can be found at


    In 1945, the Illinois legislature combined the Chicago Rapid Transit Company (which itself was the result of the merging of the city's four elevated railroad companies) and the Chicago Surface Lines, forming the CTA. In 1952, the CTA purchased the Chicago Motor Coach System, making it the city's only public transit company.

    The first train lines were a part of the Chicago and South Side Elevated Company, which in 1892, opened a 3.2 mile stretch of elevated track from Congress Parkway to 39th street, running entirely through the city's alleys. After Chicago's selection to host the 1893 World's Columbian Exposition, work began to expand the line into the site of the fair. The line was expanded south to Jackson Park, now the East 63rd terminus of the Green Line. A few years later, the other branch of the line, into the city's Englewood neighborhood, was completed.

    The Lake Street Elevated Railroad Company finished its line, running to the city's west side, a year after the first section of the South Side line was completed. This ran from 52nd Avenue (now Laramie) to Market and Madison, in Chicago's downtown. It was later extended to Forest Park, and then shortened to Harlem, its present terminus. The line, as the Company's name implied, ran along Lake Street for most of its route, turning off only at Madison.

    Both of these previous companies used steam locomotives, like those used on surface-level lines. The Metropolitan West Side Elevated Company was the first to use electric trains in Chicago. It was also the first to service what were at the time the city's north- and southwest sides. Starting at Franklin Street the line ran west until Marshfield Avenue, where it split into three branches. One went northwest, to Logan Square (later extended to what is now the Blue Line). A second went west to Garfield Park, while a third went southwest to Douglas Park and later extending out to Oak Park.

    All three companies provided fast and efficient service, but they had one common flaw: all of them ended on the outskirts of the city's downtown. Thus, in 1895, work was done to create the Union Loop, now known simply as "the Loop". The man who orchestrated this was Charles Tyson Yerkes (U of C's Yerkes Observatory was named form him), a connected Chicago businessman and elevated train mogul. He was the only person able to convince the city's store owners to consent to elevated lines on the street (a requirement of the 1872 Cities and Villages Act). Even with his skills, he still needed to build the line in segments, with two existing companies owning two parts, and two newly created companies owning the other two. By 1897, however, the Lake Street El made its first trip around the loop, and the people of Chicago could finally be dropped off right in the middle of downtown (Carson Pirie Scott had an entrance directly off of one station) and change trains with ease.

    The final elevated company in Chicago was the Northwestern Elevated Railway Company, also owned by Yerkes. Starting in 1893, they built a line north to Wilson. In 1903, they were given permission to build an extension to the Albany Park neighborhood on the city's north-west side. This line became known as the Ravenswood Elevated, and is now the Brown Line. Afterwards, the existing line between downtown and Wilson was extended north to Howard (the north branch of today's Red Line) and later into the north suburbs at Linden in Evanston (the Purple Line).

    In 1911, under the direction of Samuel Insull, among others, the four elevated companies were combined under the Chicago Elevated Railways Collateral Trust. Under the CER, cross-town service began, with trains running from Jackson Park on the south-east side to Linden in the north suburbs. Other improvements included the Ravenswood-Kenwood line, the express service from Wilson to Englewood, and a universal transfer system, allowing users to transfer between lines without the extra fare they had incurred before. Insull also had the Chicago, North Shore and Milwaukee line run into the loop allowing people to commute from downtown Chicago to Milwaukee in one trip. This service began in 1919, but was ended in 1963.

    While under the CER, all four companies kept their separate identities. This ended when the Chicago Rapid Transit Company was created. The CRT worked with inter-urban lines that Insull owned, resulting in service to Skokie, as well as into other northern suburbs, and the extension of the Garfield Park line west to Mannheim, in the suburb of Westchester.

    The CRT also oversaw the construction of a subway under the city's loop. With ground having been broken in 1938, two subways (one under State Street and the other under Dearborn) were created to help alleviate traffic in the loop. The north-south trains, from Howard to the south side were routed through the State Street Subway (opened in 1943), while the Dearborn Street Subway was to connect the Logan Square line with the Garfield Park and Douglas Park lines. The latter's construction was delayed by World War II, finally opening in 1951. The subways had several interesting features: they were the first to use fluorescent lighting, they were made up of one long platform which was then divided into different stations (State Street's 3300-foot platform is the longest in the world), and they included escalators and turnstiles. Additional subway lines were planned for the city, but none were ever created.

    In the 40s, it became clear that private companies could no longer operate the city's transit systems. The Chicago Surface Lines' operating ordinances had expired in 1938, and the CRT's were to expire in 1945. At the same time, the rolling stock and infrastructure were decaying, and World War II had prevented capital from flowing to the system while at the same time pushing up ridership. Thus, in 1945, the Illinois Legislature created the Chicago Transit Authority, whose first General Manager (later Executive Director and then President) took office in 1947. It was also in 1947 that the CTA, after selling $105 million in bonds, was able to purchase the CRT and CSL, taking over all of the city's elevated and streetcar operations.

    A problem the CTA faced (the same one its predecessors did) was revenue; the CTA was required by law to generate 50% of its revenue from fares. This was at the same time that ridership was declining, thanks to the automobile. In order to survive, several small branch lines were cut, as well as over 100 stations. The workforce was also halved, but savings from this were eliminated after contracts instituted cost-of-living increases. The CTA also did what the CRT never did, which was monitor stations and lines, and remove any that were not profitable. Train service to Skokie from Howard was replaced with busses in 1948. Also in that year, a skip-stop system was put in place to speed operations. Stations were designated as A, B, or AB stations, and lines would run A and B trains, which would stop only at their respective stations, along with all stop trains, which served all stations. Service on several lines was also curtailed, with the Ravenswood only running to the loop, Jackson Park and Englewood trains only running as far north as Howard, and trains from Linden running only to Howard during non-rush periods. Other lines were truncated, and more stations were closed. The streetcar lines were also replaced with busses. All of these actions helped to make the CTA more cost-effective. At the same time, the CTA began to replace its older cars, reusing parts from its retired streetcars.

    The construction of the city's Congress Expressway (now the Eisenhower Expressway) required the demolition of the Garfield Park line. Though a temporary, express, grade-level line was built, it was slowed by the number of railroad crossings, and so the new Congress Line (now the Forest Park branch of the Blue Line) was built along the expressway's median. This line eventually connected up with the Dearborn Street Subway, though this work required partial reconstruction of the Chicago Post Office, which the Eisenhower runs through.

    In 1963, the North Shore Elevated ended its service, and so the CTA took over its track from Howard to Skokie, restoring service to the suburb. The Skokie Swift, as it was called (today it's the Yellow Line) followed the same path as the old Skokie Line, but all stations between Howard and Dempster were removed, making the it a two-stop express line. This line did not use conductors, as the others did, thus requiring only one crewmember. At its start, only four cars were assigned to the line, though more were added as ridership increased. In addition, because there were no stops on it's five mile route, the line could operate at high speeds; for a time, trains would travel 70mph, though speeds were later reduced to 46mph, which still makes the Skokie Swift the fastest rapid transit line in the world.

    The 60s saw the continuation of the CTA's desire to modernize, though by this time, they had decided to switch from abandonment to expansion. Built between 1967 and 1969, the new Dan Ryan line (the south part of today's Red Line) ran down the median of the Dan Ryan Expressway to 95th Street. It was connected to the Lake Street Line through the loop, and resulted in people on the city's south side to easily access the west suburbs. Since this line ran parallel to the Jackson Park and Englewood lines, the latter two saw a sharp decline in ridership.

    The third expressway line ran along the Kennedy Expressway. The Logan Square branch was extended north-west to Jefferson Park in 1970, and out to O'Hare International Airport in the 80s. Though the Kennedy Line was shorter than the Dan Ryan Line, it took longer to complete becuse while the Dan Ryan Expressway was constructed at the same time as the Dan Ryan Line, with space for the train tracks included in construction, the Kennedy Expressway already existed, and needed to be reconstructed to accommodate the new line.

    The next change to the CTA came in 1990. Because the high-ridership Howard and Dan Ryan branches were mismatched with the low-ridership Lake Street and Jackson Park/Englewood lines, work began to realign the system. The State Street Subway, had been constructed in anticipation of additional subway lines in the city. Though these lines were never built, the subway did include several junctions where these future lines would join. One such junction was located at Roosevelt Road. To realign the city's train lines, a connector was built between the Roosevelt junction and the Dan Ryan branch at Chinatown, connecting the Howard line to the Dan Ryan branch, forming today's Red Line. The Dan Ryan's former mate, the Lake Street Elevated, was connected with the Englewood/Jackson Park line, today's Green Line. This change took place in 1993. On the same date, in anticipation of the 1994 World Cup, a system of color-coded lines was instituted. Besides the Red and Green Lines, the Ravenswood Elevated became the Brown Line, the O'Hare-Congress-Douglas line became the Blue Line, the Linden-Howard line became the Purple Line, and the Linden-Howard-Loop/Evanston Express service became the Purple Line Express. A third advancement in 1993 was the opening of the Orange Line, which ran from Midway Airport on the city's southwest side to the Loop. Along with this new line came new cars, with full-width cabs, allowing for one man operation, which was later instituted on all lines.


    Oh why CTA, do you stop for signal clearance on the Blue Line, when I am late for my Amtrak train?  To make things worse you idle in the tunnel. I see you in there! Your bright lights make me anxious. I do the dance similar to when I have pee. Today I can barely hold it. You always seem slower when I am late. Otherwise, you rattle my teeth as you take turns above ground on the Red Line at warp speed. Yesterday, you closed the door on my leg on your way to Argyle. Despite your best efforts today CTA, I want you to know I made it to my Amtrak train on time.

    Log in or register to write something here or to contact authors.