CTA Holiday Bus

2017 Jewel-Osco CTA Holiday Train & Bus

Our holiday trains and bus are a holiday tradition unique to Chicago, and this year are sponsored by Jewel-Osco!

The Jewel-Osco CTA Holiday Train is a six-car train decked out in lights, holiday prints and comes complete with Santa on a sleigh in the middle of the train, bringing holiday cheer across the city and neighboring communities our rail system serves. On Saturdays, a similarly-decorated Jewel-Osco CTA Elves' Workshop Train also now joins and follows the first to help ensure everyone has a chance to enjoy this exciting tradition.

Complementing these two festive trains is the Jewel-Osco CTA Holiday Bus, which brings the same holiday spirit and joy to bus riders as it travels throughout Chicago’s neighborhoods.


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2017 Holiday Trains
Jewel-Osco CTA Holiday Train & Elves' Workshop Train

What few may realize is that the Jewel-Osco CTA Holiday Train serves two very important purposes: to deliver joy and the holiday spirit to thousands of riders and also to deliver food baskets to various charitable agencies throughout the city.

The Holiday Train tradition began on the Blue Line in 1992 when a “Season’s Greetings from the CTA” sign was placed on the front of an out-of-service train that was used to deliver food to various charities. Over the years, this holiday tradition has evolved from its modest and humble beginnings to a spectacular, joyous sight to see – in daytime or nighttime.

Today, as the train pulls into each station, Santa waves to the boarding riders from his sleigh on an open-air flatcar carrying his reindeer and decorated holiday trees.

Both the Jewel-Osco CTA Holiday Train and the Jewel-Osco CTA Elves’ Workshop Train are wrapped with holiday and seasonal images. Outside, thousands of twinkling lights outline the shape of the train and windows, with even more lights running across the tops of the cars.

Strands of multi-colored lights are also strung inside the two trains along with red bows, garland, red and green overhead lighting and hand poles wrapped to look like candy canes. Riders will be greeted by Santa’s elves with plenty of candy canes for good boys and girls.

Charity food delivery

Our family continues its more-than-25-year tradition of supporting Chicago communities. Each year employees donate their time and money to purchase groceries and assemble food baskets for delivery to community organizations across the city. This year, we'll donate hundreds of food baskets to local community organizations.

Each food basket contains all the ingredients for a complete meal including a canned ham, potatoes, mixed vegetables, muffin mix, macaroni and cheese, fruit cocktail, green beans, corn and dessert.

Train Schedule

The Jewel-Osco CTA Holiday Train will travel all 'L' lines in late November and December as part of regular rail service. Normal CTA fares apply.

The train generally operates from about 1pm to 8pm on weekends and 3pm to 7pm on select weekdays (schedules for each rail line will vary), and will make stops at all stations along the respective routes. And every Saturday the Holiday Train is in service, additional Jewel-Osco CTA Elves' Workshop Train will follow to allow more to enjoy this one of a kind holiday experience.


2017 Detailed Jewel-Osco CTA Holiday Train Schedule
Follow date links, where available, for detailed schedules (posted as they become available).
Red Line 11/18 - Sat
Green LineOrange Line 11/24 - Fri
photo dayGreen Line 11/25 - Sat*
Green LineOrange Line 11/28 - Tue
Orange Line & Brown Line 11/29 - Wed
Orange Line & Brown Line 11/30 - Thu
Orange Line & Brown Line 12/1 - Fri
photo dayOrange Line & Brown Line 12/2 - Sat*
Pink Line 12/5 - Tue
Pink Line 12/6 - Wed
Blue Line 12/7 - Thu
Blue Line 12/8 - Fri
photo dayBlue Line (+ photo-only stop on Pink Line) 12/9 - Sat*
Red Line 12/12 - Tue
Purple Line 12/13 - Wed
Red Line 12/14 - Thu
Purple Line 12/15 - Fri
photo dayRed Line & Purple Line 12/16 - Sat*
Purple Line 12/21 - Thu
Yellow Line 12/22 - Fri

photo day = Photos with Santa;
*Jewel-Osco CTA Elves' Workshop Train in service and directly following the Jewel-Osco CTA Holiday Train

Holiday Bus
Jewel-Osco CTA Holiday Bus

Day or night, the commutes of thousands and the streets of Chicago’s neighborhoods are made merry with the Jewel-Osco CTA Holiday Bus. Now in its fourth year of operation, CTA employees transformed a 60-foot bus into a winter wonderland as a way to say “thank you” to customers and bring added cheer this holiday season.

The exterior wrap features “Ralphie the Reindeer” leading the way with his crimson nose aglow and Santa’s sleigh in tow. Strings of lights outline the bus and its windows, while Ralphie is brought to life with 3-D antlers atop the bus and a ruby light affixed to the front of the bus.  

Inside, the bus features multi-colored lights, holiday-themed seating, candy-cane striping, and one-of-a-kind artwork created by students from Skinner West  Elementary. In the very back of the bus is Santa and his workshop, which serves as the perfect setting for the scheduled photo sessions with Santa.


2017 Detailed Jewel-Osco CTA Holiday Bus Schedule

NOTE: schedule times are approximate and subject to change.
Date in Service
Departure Times
(coming soon)

Tue 11/28
photo day
Wed 11/29
Thu 11/30
photo day
Fri 12/1
photo daySat 12/2
photo day
Tue 12/5
Wed 12/6
photo day
Thu 12/7
photo day
Fri 12/8
Sat 12/9
photo day
Wed 12/13
Thu 12/14
photo day
Fri 12/15
photo day
Sat 12/16
Sun 12/17
photo day
Wed 12/20
photo day
Thu 12/21
Fri 12/22
photo day
Sat 12/23

photo day= Photos with Santa


 Travel Tips

Both the train and bus are in-service vehicles that operate as part of regular service; therefore, they cannot dwell at stations/stops for long periods of time. While every effort is made to accommodate riders, space is limited and boarding is not guaranteed.

To ensure everyone has an opportunity to see and take part in this annual tradition, here are a few suggested tips to make the most of your experience:

  • Plan ahead and allow extra travel time. You can also track the whereabouts of Santa using CTA Train Tracker, which will indicate the Holiday Train with a candy cane.
  • Travel light: with many families making the train a part of their holiday traditions, small collapsible strollers are encouraged so that you and others have an opportunity to board the train.
  • Boarding: the train/bus will become more crowded as it travels down its route; therefore, we recommend customers consider the following:
    • Board at a station/stop close to the beginning of the route. Unlike other in-service trains/buses, many people who board the train or bus often stay on board until it reaches the end of its route—and will then take it back home if it is scheduled to make a return trip.
    • Train (Only): rail cars toward the front or back of the train will be less crowded compared to those immediately adjacent to Santa’s sleigh.
  • Taking photos: see schedules for scheduled photo sessions with Santa. When taking photos while the train and bus are in service, we recommend the following:
    • Train: if you are planning to ride the train and take photos from a station platform, don’t miss your opportunity to board the train! Board the train first and then plan to take photos of Santa or the train when exiting at your destination.
    • Bus: riders who wish to take photos with Santa on board the bus are encouraged to do so only when the vehicle is stopped and ideally just before exiting the through rear doors.  


Photos & Video

Photos from 2016

CTA Holiday Train 2016 CTA Holiday Bus

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System Status



Red Line Normal Service
Blue Line Significant Delays
Brown Line Significant Delays
Green Line Normal Service
Orange Line Normal Service
Purple Line Normal Service
Pink Line Significant Delays
Yellow Line Normal Service


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