Riding the Train

How-to Guide: Riding the train

CTA's train system is known as the 'L' (a now-official name originally short for "elevated"). 

Trains serve over 140 stations located throughout the city and nearby suburbs, on elevated railways, in subways, or on the ground.


  1. photo: first, pay fare at turnstilesEnter the station and pay fare.
    When you enter a train station, you can pay your fare at the turnstile or gate. Every station has Ventra Vending Machines and Transit Card Vending Machines if you need to buy fare.
  2. photo: follow signs that lead you to the train you needMake your way to the boarding area.
    Stations have maps and signs to help you find your way. Follow signs to the boarding area for your train. Once at the platform, wait near the signs that indicate where trains stop.
  3. photo: note train destination sign and board the train you desireBoard.
    When the train arrives, note the train's route and destination. A Blue Line train to O'Hare will say "O'Hare" on a blue background on the front and inside the center, side window, for example.

    Enjoy the ride!



  • Stand clear of the platform edge. Also, don't run on platforms.
  • When the train arrives, allow alighting passengers to exit before entering.
  • Move all the way into the car.
  • Maps are posted in each railcar to help you plan your trip.
  • If you need help, stations are always attended by a CTA Customer Assistant or a security guard.
  • Visit our Maps section or our System Guide for details about where the 'L' can take you.
  • See Accessible Services for a list of accessible 'L' stations.


Plan a trip

Start (e.g. O'Hare Airport)

End (e.g. 1 N State St, Chicago, IL)

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About trip planners (and more options)..

System Status



Red Line Normal Service*
Blue Line Normal Service
Brown Line Normal Service
Green Line Normal Service
Orange Line Normal Service
Purple Line Normal Service
Pink Line Normal Service
Yellow Line Normal Service


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