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From Trains to Water Taxis: Mastering Chicago Transport

This blog post was updated on September 6, 2018.

You may have just booked some super cheap flights to Chicago, but how are you planning to get around after arrival?

Chicago could be considered a congested city when it comes to traffic, and driving there is something I wouldn’t recommend to newbie Chicago tourists.

At peak times of the day, that act could bring you to a standstill and provide a headache unworthy of the title of vacation.

Public transport is probably your best bet to take the stress out of your travels, and you can choose from trains, taxis and buses in Chi-town.

The ‘L’  – The ‘L’, coming from the word “elevated” as it rises above the city streets, is a rapid train system that runs throughout the city of Chicago, radiating out to major suburbs and regions.  It is composed of 9 lines, two of which will take you directly to either the Chicago O’Hare and Chicago Midway airports.

Buses – The CTA bus system consists of 140 different bus routes throughout the Chicago area.  Many of the lines offer late or 24 hour “Night Owl Service” for those that have different schedules in mind.  Nineteen bus routes run on the Night Owl Service between the hours of midnight and 5 am — taking visitors to neighborhoods like Cicero, Oak Park, and Forest Park.

Taxis – Taxis in Chicago are plentiful, and you won’t really have to wait long in order to flag one down.  To get an idea of rates, a typical taxi from Chicago O’Hare to State and Madison runs in the $35 range.  Taxis in Chicago take credit cards, so you won’t have to worry about not having enough cash.

Water Taxis – Water taxi routes are quite limited in downtown Chicago, but they are quite fun for tourists.  I found them to be a suitable substitute for a Chicago boat cruise as you get the same feel of gliding between the giant Chicago buildings and the ability to view the magnificent and iconic architecture.  The water taxis run from Michigan Avenue to Chinatown.

Public transport is what will get you around the big iconic attractions, the Shedd Aquarium, the best romantic restaurants, or wherever your heart desires.

As a prepared traveler, it is a great idea to research the public transportation system through maps before arriving at a destination.  For Chicago, you can peek at the maps on the CTA website.


CC Flickr photo credit: ruffin_ready

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