Public Transportation

Chicago is a walking city with an easy-to-navigate downtown grid. Madison Street divides the city north and south, while State Street divides it east and west. The State/Madison intersection marks the origin of Chicago’s address grid system. Addresses are relative to the distance from that mark, with eight blocks to every mile. So an address of 3600 North Clark means that it is 36 blocks north of Madison.

Chicago Transit Authority

The Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) operates the nation’s second largest public transportation system – serving the City of Chicago and 40 neighboring communities by rail and bus. Pay cash for single trip rides or purchase a reloadable Transit Card or Unlimited Ride Pass for added savings.

For full fare information and maps, visit the Chicago Transit Authority website at Also look to their site for the latest updates to train schedules and routes that may affect your travel plans.

‘L’ Trains: Not all of Chicago’s eight ‘L’ lines are “elevated.” They do, however, connect the city via above-ground, street-level and subway trains and serve 144 rail stations all over town, making the ‘L’ one of the most efficient and affordable methods of transportation available. Two lines operate 24 hours a day: the Blue Line, which connects the O’Hare airport and downtown, and the Red Line, with service between the North and South Sides via downtown.

Buses: More than 100 routes lace the city; buses stop every few blocks. Several lines operate 24 hours a day. Exact change is required for cash fare.

Full Fare with Cash (bus only)

Acceptable on buses using exact change only in dollar bills or coins; no transfers available.

  • Single ride: $2.25
Full Fare with Transit Card (bus and rail)

Transfers must occur within two hours of the first ride. Available online and at rail station vending machines and Chicago Visitor Information Centers.

  • First ride: $2.00 (bus)
  • First ride: $2.25 (rail)
  • First transfer: $0.25
  • Second transfer: FREE
O’Hare Station Fare (rail)

A $5 O’Hare rate applies to riders paying full fare with Transit Card at the O’Hare Blue Line Station.

  • First ride if starting at O’Hare: $5.00
  • First transfer: $0.25
  • Second transfer: FREE
Unlimited Ride Passes (bus and rail)

Activated on first use, passes allow unlimited rides for the specified time, offering the best travel value. Available online and at select Currency Exchanges, Jewel and Dominick’s grocers, and CVS and Walgreens convenience stores.

  • 1-Day CTA Fun Pass: $10.00
  • 3-Day CTA Pass: $20.00
  • 7-Day CTA Pass: $28.00