What accessibility features do CTA buses and trains come with?
Learn more about what features are available on our Accessibility Features page.
Is there a seating priority on the CTA?
Yes. The Americans with Disabilities Act requires all transit agencies to designate priority seating for persons with disabilities.
Priority seating on the CTA is generally located near the front of buses and adjacent to the side passenger doors on rail cars. Priority seats/seating areas are clearly distinguished by two special icons (both a wheelchair and a person with a cane) located on the seats and/or on a decal above the seats.
These same decals are also used by Metra and Pace as part of a collaborative effort rolled out beginning in 2012, to provide clear and consistent messaging and uniform signage for priority seating on all public transit vehicles serving the region.
The CTA ranks seating priority in designated areas for riders in the following order:
- Riders who use manual or power wheelchairs/scooters: Operators must request that priority seats be cleared if the wheelchair securement area is occupied by anyone other than a customer using a wheelchair/scooter.
- Riders with other disabilities (including seniors with disabilities): Operators must ask these riders upon boarding if they need assistance, including assistance securing a priority seat. If yes, operators will ask that priority seats be cleared.
- Seniors without disabilities
- People who are pregnant, riders with small children and people with strollers
- Everyone else
Are there discounted fares available for people with disabilities?
Yes. The Regional Transportation Authority (RTA) offers a Reduced Fare Permit to people with disabilities. With a Reduced Fare permit, you can ride CTA buses or trains at a discount. The reduced fare also applies to transfers. A Reduced Fare Permit allows the permit holder to ride at the reduced fare. Call RTA at 312-913-3110 (voice) or 312-836-4949 (TTY) to apply.
Rides are free on CTA buses and trains for any Illinois resident with a disability enrolled in the Benefit Access Program. Information about this program is available by calling the Illinois Department on Aging at 1-800-252-8966 (voice) or 1-888-206-1327 (TTY) or by visiting www.illinois.gov/aging.
Learn more about Reduced Fare & Free Ride Programs.
ADA & station upgrades
How is the CTA in compliance with the ADA when not all stations have elevators?
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) of 1990, requires that all new vehicles purchased for general fixed-route service be ADA accessible, as well as all newly constructed rail stations. The ADA also mandated that all rail stations built after 1992 be fully ADA compliant and that we make key stations on our system readily accessible to and usable by people with disabilities.
Here’s where we are: When the ADA passed in 1990, our bus fleet also went from 0% of buses being accessible to 100%. Also at that time, only 13 out of the 141 stations on the 'L' met requirements laid out by the act (about 9%). Today, more than 70 are accessible (the result of a nearly 800% increase in the overall number of accessible stations).
The work we've done puts us in compliance with the ADA and actually goes above and beyond those key station rehabilitation requirements—however, we continue to build and upgrade stations for accessibility whenever we can.
Read about our All Stations Accessibility Program to learn more about recent/ongoing work and our plans for the future.
Why haven’t elevators been added to recently rehabbed rail stations?
Elevators alone aren't enough to make a station accessible. Some stations that we haven’t yet been able to upgrade date as far back as 1895 and would still not be considered accessible to people with disabilities due to platform width issues (mobility devices, like wheelchairs, not only need a safe width to navigate a platform, but also to be able to pass others safely).
If passing accommodations can't be properly provided in the oft-constrained dimensions of our property, widening platforms can require the acquisition of additional property or “air rights”, and possibly require demolition of whole buildings adjacent to stations. To say the least, it can be very expensive and present many challenges to make an existing facility accessible, and can impact the nature of what surrounds our stations. Great care is taken in these areas.
When will my station be receiving upgrades to be made wheelchair accessible?
We are committed to making the rail system 100% accessible to people with disabilities. In early 2016, CTA President Dorval R. Carter, Jr., introduced a new planning effort called the All Stations Accessibility Program (ASAP), establishing the first blueprint for making non-accessible rail stations accessible over the next 20 years.
This comprehensive plan outlines both short-term and long-term station accessibility project plans and includes station concepts and cost estimates. The plan for the rehabilitation and/or replacement of 155 existing station elevators also will be included.
At this time, much of the work outlined in the All Stations Accessibility Program is currently unfunded.
What kind of work does CTA do to maintain elevators in its stations?
The kinds of elevators in use on transit are custom-made, because they need to be specially designed and built for the unique (and sometimes extremely confined) spaces where they're installed. These complicated machines have thousands of moving parts, many of which have to be custom-made to fit in a specific space designed before modern considerations.
In addition to regular maintenance (both reactive and preventative), they can also need periodic refurbishment or reconditioning to keep them in good, safe, reliable shape—this important work can require an escalator or elevator to be taken out-of-service and can take weeks (or even months) to complete.
Learn more about the work that goes into maintaining, repairing and upgrading elevators (and escalators) on CTA on our Elevator & Escalator Upgrades page.