People wait as the Holiday Train stops at Sedgwick

Allstate CTA Holiday Train & Bus

It's the most wonderful time of the year! Chicago's most unique and beloved holiday tradition is here: The Allstate CTA Holiday Fleet. Now in its 32nd year of operation, we are excited to be delivering holiday cheer throughout Chicago's neighborhoods and welcome you aboard our decked-out and dazzling Allstate CTA Holiday Train and the popular Allstate CTA Holiday Bus!

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Allstate CTA Holiday Train

Holiday history

What few may realize is that the 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 train 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 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 riders from his sleigh on an open-air flatcar carrying his reindeer and decorated holiday trees.

Each car of the train is wrapped with holiday and seasonal images. Thousands of twinkling lights outline the shape of the train and windows, with even more lights running across the tops of the cars.

Charity food delivery

The CTA family continues its decades-long tradition of supporting Chicago communities. Each year, our 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 approximately 600 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.

Photos with Santa are back!

Make sure your camera and/or mobile devices are charged and ready, as photos with Santa are back! For the first time since 2019, riders and fans of the Allstate CTA Holiday Fleet will be able to partake in photo sessions with Santa on designated dates for both the festive bus and train (see schedules for more details).

Photos with Santa will be taken by a CTA employee using your device. Please have devices ready for use when it’s your turn with Santa. Photos are on a first-come, first-served basis, limit one photo set-up per family/group. Photo props will be available.

NOTE: Every effort is made to accommodate those lined-up for photos; however, there is a firm-cut-off time to ensure the Allstate CTA Holiday Bus/Train depart and remain on schedule. See on-site staff for more information.

Train schedule

The Allstate CTA Holiday Train will travel all rail lines beginning in late November through late December as part of regular rail service, making stops at all stations along the respective routes. Schedules for each rail line will vary. Normal CTA fares apply.

2023 Allstate CTA Holiday Train schedule
All times pm

Green Line & Orange Line

Fri 11/24

Departing:
Midway toward Loop, then Harlem/Lake at 3:07
Harlem/Lake to Cottage Grove at 4:31
Cottage Grove toward Loop, then Midway at 5:51

Green Line
& Photos with Santa

Sat 11/25 πŸ“·

Departing:
Harlem/Lake to Ashland/63rd at 2:11
Cottage Grove to Harlem/Lake at 3:30

Green Line & Orange Line

Tue 11/28

Departing:
Midway toward Loop, then Harlem/Lake at 4:01
Harlem/Lake to Ashland/63rd at 5:31
Ashland/63rd toward Loop, then Midway at 7:06

Orange Line Brown Line

Wed 11/29

Departing:
Midway toward Loop, then Kimball at 3:07
Kimball toward Loop, then Midway at 4:41

Orange Line Brown Line

Thu 11/30

Departing:
Midway toward Loop, then Kimball at 3:53
Kimball toward Loop, then Midway at 5:28

Orange Line Brown Line

Fri 12/1

Departing:
Midway toward Loop, then Kimball at 3:07
Kimball toward Loop, then Midway at 4:41

Orange Line Brown Line
& Photos with Santa

Sat 12/2 πŸ“·

Departing:
Kimball toward Loop, then Midway at 12:53
Midway toward Loop, then Kimball at 4:01
Kimball toward Loop, then Midway at 5:29 (updated)

Red Line

Tue 12/5

Departing:
Howard to 95th/Dan Ryan at 2:43
95th/Dan Ryan to Howard at 4:19

Purple Line

Wed 12/6

Departing:
Howard to Linden at 3:15
Linden to Loop, via express, at 3:50
Loop (from Clark/Lake) to Linden at 4:38
Linden to Howard at 6:00

Red Line

Thu 12/7

Departing:
Howard to 95th/Dan Ryan at 3:13
95th/Dan Ryan to Howard at 4:46

Purple Line

Fri 12/8

Departing:
Howard to Linden at 3:45
Linden to Loop, via express, at 4:20
Loop (from Clark/Lake) to Linden at 5:07
Linden to Howard at 6:20

Red Line & Purple Line
& Photos with Santa

Sat 12/9 πŸ“·

Departing:
Howard to 95th/Dan Ryan at 12:16
95th/Dan Ryan to Howard at 3:01

Howard to Linden at 4:16
Linden to Howard at 6:31

Pink Line

Tue 12/12

Departing:
54th/Cermak to Loop at 2:43
Loop (from Clark/Lake) to 54th/Cermak at 3:10
54th/Cermak to Loop at 4:16
Loop (from Clark/Lake) to 54th/Cermak at 4:43

Pink Line

Wed 12/13

Departing:
54th/Cermak to Loop at 3:06
Loop (from Clark/Lake) to 54th/Cermak at 3:33
54th/Cermak to Loop at 4:44
Loop (from Clark/Lake) to 54th/Cermak at 5:11

Blue Line 

Thu 12/14

Departing:
O'Hare to Forest Park at 3:13
Forest Park to O'Hare at 4:57

Blue Line 

Fri 12/15

Departing:
O'Hare to Forest Park at 4:13
Forest Park to O'Hare at 6:02

Blue Line 
& Photos with Santa

Sat 12/16 πŸ“·

Departing:
Racine to Forest Park at 1:50
Forest Park to O'Hare at 3:53

Yellow Line Skokie Swift Bird

Thu 12/21

All trains on Yellow Line will be 2-car Holiday Trains for service departing:
Howard from 3:08 until 6:53
Dempster-Skokie from 3:22 until 7:07

πŸ“· = Photos with Santa days

Allstate CTA Holiday Bus

Day or night, the commutes of thousands and the streets of Chicago’s neighborhoods are made merry with the Allstate CTA Holiday Bus.  A part of our holiday tradition since 2014, this 60-foot bus has been transformed by CTA employees into a winter wonderland to say “thank you” to customers and bring added cheer during the holiday season.

You’ll know this bus is near when you hear holiday music playing and a jolly “Ho-ho-ho!” from down the street. Look up and you’ll see Santa waving and greeting all the good boys and girls of Chicago from the roof hatch of the bus.

The exterior of the bus features Santa and reindeer on a roof, getting ready to deliver gifts to good boys and girls. 

Bus Schedule

The bus will travel multiple CTA bus routes throughout the city between late November and late December, as part of regular service. Normal CTA fares apply.

We strongly encourage you to use the holiday bus tracker to track the whereabouts of Ralphie and Santa along the scheduled route. This information will only be available while the bus is in service on the dates and times listed below.

2023 Allstate CTA Holiday Bus schedule

Route

Date in service

Departure times  

#56 Milwaukee


 

Tue 11/28

Approx. 11:50a until 5p

Wed 11/29 πŸ“·

Approx. 1:00p until 8:15p

Photos at Jefferson Park 4:00p-5:10p

#91 Austin/
#92 Foster

Thu 11/30

Approx. 12p until 5p

#22 Clark

Fri 12/1

Approx. 12:45p until 8p

#22 Clark
#97 Skokie

Sat 12/2 πŸ“·

Approx.12:30p until 7p

Photos at Old Orchard 1:30p-2:30p

#74 Fullerton Tue 12/5 Approx. 12:10p until 6:30p

#66 Chicago

Wed 12/6 πŸ“·

Approx. 11:45a until 7:00p

Photos at Navy Pier 4:20p-5:15p

Thu 12/7

Approx. 12:20p until 7:30p

#126 Jackson

Fri 12/8 πŸ“·

Approx. 12:20p until 7:05p

Photos at Jackson/Austin 3:00p-4:00p

#12 Roosevelt

Sat 12/9 πŸ“·

Approx. 12:15p until 7:45p

Photos at Harrison/Central 2:30p-3:30p

#62 Archer

Tue 12/12 πŸ“·

Approx. 12:15p until 6:00p

Photos at Midway 1:45p-2:45p

#49 Western

#X49 Western Exp.

Wed 12/13

Approx. 12:30p until 5:10p

Thu 12/14 πŸ“·

Approx. 12:20p until 8:40p

Photos at 79th/Western 4:20p-5:15p

#3 King Drive

Fri 12/15

Approx. 12:20p until 8:15p

#79 79th Sat 12/16 πŸ“·

Approx. 12:10p until 5p

Photos at Ford City 4:00p-5:00p

#28 Stony Island Tue 12/19 πŸ“·

Approx. 12:40p until 6:50p

Photos at Union Station Bus Terminal 4:30p-5:30p

#J14 Jeffrey Jump

Wed 12/20

Approx. 11:45a until 7:00p

#6 Jackson Park

Thu 12/21 πŸ“·

Approx. 11:45a until 6:30p

Photos at Wacker/Stetson 1:05p-2:05p

#29 State

Fri 12/22

Approx. 12:20p until 8:05p

Sat 12/23 πŸ“·

Approx. 12:15p until 7:30p

Photos at Navy Pier 1:50p-2:50p

πŸ“· = Photos with Santa days 

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, or by using the dedicated holiday bus tracker.
     
  • 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): Railcars toward the front or back of the train will be less crowded compared to those immediately adjacent to Santa’s sleigh.
       
  • Taking photos: When taking photos while the train or bus are in service, we recommend the following:
    • Train: If you are planning to ride the train, board the train first and then plan to take photos of Santa or the train when exiting at your destination—don't miss your opportunity to board the train!
    • 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 through the rear doors.