The Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) operates the nation's second largest public transportation system--a regional transit system that serves the City of Chicago and 40 neighboring communities. CTA provides 1.64 million rides on an average weekday, accounting for over 80% of all transit trips taken in the six-county Chicago metropolitan region.
Presently, CTA service is provided by two modes: bus and rail.
In addition to CTA, regional transit services are also provided by our sister agencies, Metra and Pace--both of which connect with CTA bus and rail in numerous locations. You can read more about regional and national services that connect with CTA in our page about Connecting Services.
Services we provide
Most rides on CTA are taken by bus. Our bus system consists of 140 routes. Buses make over 25,000 trips daily, and serve nearly 12,000 bus stops throughout the region.
CTA bus routes serve communities locally, move people across town, and a number of express services are provided. Several routes also provide 24-hour service, known as "Owl Service."
Learn how to ride the bus.
CTA 'L' (Train Service)
Our rail system consists of train lines spanning the city and neighboring communities, and is known locally as "The 'L'." The service provided is described as "heavy rail rapid transit," also referred to as a "subway" or "metro" in many parts of the world.
Today's 'L' system has eight rapid transit routes and consists of 144 stations over approximately 242.2 miles of track. Parts of the 'L' run above ground, in subway tunnels and tubes, as well as at grade or in expressway medians. Two routes--the Red and Blue Lines--operate 24 hours, every day.
The nickname 'L' is short for "elevated," a reference to the all-elevated beginnings of the system (even though, as just mentioned, parts of the system today are at or below ground).
Free transfer between all 'L' routes is available at designated locations (see route guides or maps for free transfer locations).
Learn how to ride the train.