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Filming & Photography

Your filming and photography projects, both large and small, are welcome on CTA.

The CTA is an integral part of Chicago's image and history. One of Chicago's most famous landmarks is its century-old elevated train system, popularly known as the 'L'. Our historic 'L', which dates back to 1892, stamps your project as "Made in Chicago."

Note: If you're not a professional photographer or filmmaker and want to know about taking your own pictures or video on CTA, see our Photo & Video policy.

 

What we offer

Transit

CTA’s vehicles can be rented for productions any time, except weekday rush hours (approx. 6 a.m. - 9 a.m. & 3 p.m. - 6 p.m.) or where restricted by CTA.

  • Trains
    Our train system covers hundreds of miles of track across Chicagoland, spanning diverse neighborhoods and a wide range of scenery. Rentals start at a minimum of four hours for a two-car train which includes travel time to and from the rail station selected for your production. Labor costs are not included in the rental rate. Personnel needed to accompany your production are paid at time and a half for a minimum of eight hours. Supervisory personnel is needed for all productions.

    We have over 1,000 train cars of five different types of construction.
     
  • Buses
    CTA buses, in several different varieties, crisscross every Chicagoland neighborhood. Rentals start at a minimum of four hours which includes travel time to and from your production’s location. The Bus Operator’s labor cost is included in the rental rate. Supervisory personnel is needed for most productions. Supervisory personnel is needed for most productions.

    We have over 1,800 buses, in our fleet, with new models being delivered right now.  We also keep three vintage buses circa 1960, which may be available for period pieces. Restoration costs will apply for using this equipment.

 

Props

We can provide your production with:

  • Bus stop signs
  • Rail signs
  • Public information signs
  • Maps, schedules, brochures and other CTA publications.
  • Farecard replicas

 

Support Crew

Appropriate personnel is required for support as follows:

  • Supervisory staff to accompany you and/or your crew whenever your project is scheduled.
  • Specialized personnel can be hired as needed: Bus Operators, Rapid Transit Operators, Customer Assistants, Laborers, etc.

 

Locations

The 'L' offers a wide variety of infrastructure types and station design, ranging from historic and ornate landmark stations to modernist marvels. Parts of the system operate over elevated lines (steel or concrete), in subways, along expressways, and even at ground level.

For a unique and genuinely Chicago look, here's just a sampling of the places you can showcase Chicago from and with transit:

  • Over 140 train stations
  • Over 11,000 bus stops
  • Under the 'L' tracks
  • Chicago & Franklin Station, a Brown Line elevated rail station, offers a panoramic 'L' view of downtown
  • The Quincy & Wells (Loop elevated), Conservatory-Central Park Drive (Green Line) and Ashland (Green Line) elevated rail stations have been restored to their original appearance
  • Wrigley Field as seen from the Addison Red Line elevated rail station
  • U.S. Cellular Field as seen from the 35th St. Red Line rail station
  • Theater districts served by CTA buses and trains
  • The Magnificent Mile and State Street shopping districts, as well as neighborhood malls, served by the CTA.
  • The Museum Campus (Lakefront) served by CTA buses
  • Two train lines providing direct rapid transit service to both major airports: the Blue Line to O'Hare International and the Orange Line to Midway
  • The 'L' and buses can be filmed not only in downtown Chicago but also in many of Chicagoland's diverse neighborhoods and suburbs.

 

How to get started

  1. Contact the CTA's Film Coordinator, Joyce Shaw, (at least two weeks in advance) at +1 (312) 681-4131 or at jshaw@transitchicago.com
     
  2. E-mail or fax a Letter of Intent with your script, storyboard or concept detailing how and when you want to use CTA's services. We will contact you within 24 hours of receipt. The fax number is +1 (312) 681-4197.
     
  3. A pre-production meeting will be held at the CTA headquarters with your organization and CTA staff to discuss your plans and how we can accommodate them in compliance with CTA's regulations and safety requirements. A written cost estimate will be given to you upon request.
     
  4. Requests made less than two weeks in advance are subject to postponement until adequate CTA manpower is available.
     
  5. Download the Filming and Photography Guidelines document, which includes requirements to film, insurance information, and the request form.

 

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System Status

 

Trains:

Red Line Normal Service
Blue Line Normal Service
Brown Line Normal Service
Green Line Planned Work
Orange Line Normal Service
Purple Line Normal Service
Pink Line Normal Service
Yellow Line Normal Service

Buses:

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