Graphic art of person in wheelchair approaching station with added elevators, highlighted

All Stations Accessibility Program

Committed to making our system 100% accessible.

Thanks to strong CTA leadership, and the cooperative participation of Chicago’s disability community, we’re on track and making progress on the All Stations Accessibility Program (ASAP)–having made significant strides toward improving system accessibility across the city and neighboring communities we serve.

ASAP is a dedicated planning effort introduced by CTA President Dorval R. Carter, Jr., to establish the first-ever blueprint for making 42 remaining non-accessible rail stations vertically accessible by 2038.

This comprehensive plan, which was unveiled in July 2018, outlines both short-term and long-term station accessibility project plans, including station concepts, cost estimates and phasing. The ASAP plan also goes above and beyond federal requirements and includes plans for the rehabilitation and/or replacement of all 160+ existing station elevators, as well as enhancements to rail system signage and wayfinding to make it easier and more intuitive for people who are DeafBlind, blind, and visually impaired.

The ASAP plan is a living document and will be updated over time to remain relevant and consistent with ongoing planning, modernization and construction work planned as part of our capital program. An updated plan is expected in 2024.

Today, our bus and rail fleet is 100% accessible to those who require step-free access to bus and train service and 103 of our 145 rail stations (>70%) are now accessible.

A wheelchair user getting on a bus.

Tracking progress

A simple drawing of a construction worker installing an accessibility icon.

Funding has always been the biggest hurdle in delivering on our vision of making the entire rail system accessible to those using mobility devices. As a result of ongoing advocacy and support from members of Illinois’ General Assembly—as well as our commitment to finding reliable funding sources –a new $1.75 billion discretionary grant program was created as part of the Biden Administration’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill, and takes the name of our “All Stations Accessibility Program”.

We are proud to have played a part in what is the first funding program created specifically for legacy transit agencies, like CTA, to help increase the number of accessible rail stations. We are now focused on applying for and securing funds – through this new dedicated program and a variety of other federal funding resources – to further advance its visionary plan of making its entire rail system vertically-accessible by 2038.

So far, funding has been secured for the following 14 stations that are currently inaccessible.  Once construction at these stations is complete, we will have 117 accessible stations out of a total of 145 stations (81%).

  • Green Line: Oak Park, Austin and Ridgeland
  • Blue Line: Montrose, California, Irving Park, Belmont, Racine** and Pulaski
  • Loop Elevated: State/Lake (CDOT)
  • Red Line: Bryn Mawr*, Berwyn*, Argyle and Lawrence*

Of those 14, five (those marked with an “*”) are under construction as part of the Red Purple Modernization Program and Phase 1 off the Forest Park Branch Rebuild.

Rendering of the design of the new, accessible Austin Green Line station, at night with a bus in front.
Rendering of the design of the new Austin Green Line station.
Rendering of the entrance to the new, accessible Racine Blue Line station.
Rendering of the inside of the Racine main station house, expected to open in 2024.
Crew working on tracks in the sunshine.
Crews working on the Racine platform extension which will connect to the new, vertically-accessible station. (September 2023)

What's next?

Construction at the California Blue Line station is slated to begin in 2024.

The CTA is working to secure funding to reconstruct additional stations.

How were stations prioritized for accessibility upgrades?

In general, non-accessible stations will be prioritized based on a score stemming from a needs and complexity analysis or in coordination with other anticipated projects (i.e. Red and Purple ModernizationBlue Line Forest Park branch Vision Study, etc.).

The criterion used in determining the needs score is similar to what was used in previous CTA accessibility analyses (i.e. the 2012 Infrastructure Accessibility Task Force plan).

Stations with higher needs and lower complexity scores were prioritized for near-term improvement plans. Highly complex stations that require more time for planning, design, construction, agency coordination and community input are listed as part of long-term project plans.

Why will it take so long to make the remaining stations accessible?

The Grand Blue Line station (est. 1951) is one of the more complex stations to be made vertically accessible due to it being a subway station located under major roadways in an area becoming more densely populated, among other factors.

Making a station accessible requires far more than the addition of an elevator. Like many older transit systems across the country, we face a wide range of challenges and opportunities related to making its existing stations accessible to riders with disabilities – the biggest hurdle being funding, as noted above.

Project construction is intentionally staggered in order to balance the impact on communities and ridership.

With an average age of 75 years, the remaining non-accessible stations all have their own unique set of needs and environmental factors that have been considered as part of the planning process, including:

  • Age and condition of a station can require a complete rebuild versus modernization of existing infrastructure
  • Layout of a stationhouse may require multiple elevators for access from street-level to each platform
  • Site constraints; in some cases stations are only a couple feet from existing buildings and other infrastructure.
  • Platform location, length or width may be too narrow or too short to allow enough space for operation of mobility devices
  • Historic designations of the station and/or adjacent infrastructure may prevent extensive alterations to the station
  • Subway stations present their own unique set of challenges for adding elevators, including:
    • Station size and layout
    • Station entry/exit points
    • Location and number of adjacent/street-level buildings and properties
    • Configuration of adjacent streets and sidewalks
    • Relocating or working around century-old underground utilities and tunnels
    • Excavation and road closures
Rendering of the canopy of the new, accessible State/Lake station.
Rendering of the design of the new State/Lake station.

More about the All Stations Accessibility Program (ASAP)

When the Americans with Disabilities Act passed in 1990, less than 10 (about 6%) of our rail stations complied with accessibility standards laid out in the landmark legislation. In December 2009, with the completion of the Brown Line Capacity Expansion Project, we became compliant with what is known under the ADA as our "key" station upgrade requirements.

ASAP is a collaborative process, which is why we created a working group to help develop and finalize our plan, which was created with the support of the Chicago Mayor’s Office for People with Disabilities (also known as MOPD), the Chicago Transit Board, personnel from various CTA departments such as Planning, ADA compliance, Infrastructure, Maintenance, etc., as well as consultants from LCM Architects, a Chicago-based design firm consisting of experts in accessibility and universal design.

Plan documents

All Stations Accessibility Program Strategic Plan - July 2018

ASAP Stragetic Plan Cover Page

System status snapshot
‘L’ route status
Red Line
Normal Service
Blue Line
Normal Service
Brown Line
Normal Service
Green Line
Normal Service
Orange Line
Normal Service
Pink Line
Normal Service
Yellow Line
Normal Service
Bus routes w/alerts
Elevator alerts