Wednesday, October 24, 2012


Picture courtesy of Wikimedia
Rob Pongsajapan under CC-BY license

The main transit agency in Chicago is the Chicago Transit Authority (CTA). They run a system of buses and subway trains. Most of the trains run above ground, much of that on elevated tracks so the system is known locally as the "L" (for elevated).
Picture courtesy of Wikimedia
Kelly Martin under CC-BY-SA license

Chicago was a bit late to the accessible bus party, but now 100% of their fleets and routes are wheelchair accessible. I remember when we were there in 2001, we were at a bus stop and a bus with a wheelchair lift stopped but because it was not designated as a wheelchair accessible route, the driver would not pick us up.  The new policy opens up vast swaths of the city that were not available to wheelers before.

Buses go just about everywhere here and come by often. You’re never more than a couple of blocks away from a bus line. Normal fare is $2.25 (2012) and a day pass can be had for $5.75. Disabled riders can board for a dollar. An RTA reduced fare is technically required, but in our experience, if you’re obviously disabled, you can ride for this fare.

Illinois residents with disabilities can apply to the RTA for a free ride card.

Picture courtesy of Wikimedia
JeremyA under CC-BY-SA license


The L serves much of the main corridors of the city. We found we could get to about 90% of the places we wanted to go via accessible L service. First, both airports…O’Hare and Midway…have accessible L stations. The Blue Line serves O’Hare and the Orange Line serves Midway.

Both ballparks are served by the Red Line with Wrigley Field next to the Addison station north of downtown (north side) and US Cellular Field (Comiskey Park) served by the 35th Street station. Each station is less than a block from their respective stadiums.

Soldier Field is served by the accessible Roosevelt Station on the Orange, Green and Red Lines.

The Loop is the downtown area where several L lines go in a circle around the area on elevated tracks…the Blue and Red line go through this area underground. The Pink and Orange lines go in a clockwise direction while the Brown line goes in a counter-clockwise direction. 7 of the 14 Loop stations are accessible.

Chicago can get extremely cold. Each L station has an area where you can press a button and a space heater will run for 15 minutes to keep you warm while you wait for the train.

Fares are the same as for the buses (above).

Click on the link for a route map for the CTA. Wheelchair accessible L stations have the wheelchair symbol next to them.


METRA is a commuter rail service providing service between Chicago and the suburbs to the North, West, and South. All downtown METRA stations are accessible. You can view a map and get a list of their accessible stations at their website, . It keeps crashing my browser but maybe you’ll have better luck.

One way, full fare tickets run from $2.75 to $9.25 (2012). People with disabilities pay a little less than half price. On weekends, up to 3 children…age 11 and under…can ride free with each paying adult. Adults can get a weekend pass for $7 good for both Saturday and Sunday.


PACE is a regional bus service that serves Cook, Lake, Will, Kane, McHenry, and DuPage counties. It also serves nearby cities in Indiana. All PACE buses are accessible but their website is in dire need of a makeover. Fares runs from $1.75 to $4.00 (2010) with disabled fares running from 85 cents to $2.00.


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