Policies & practices

To maintain a safe and pleasant environment for everyone, the CTA has some basic rules governing behavior on our buses and trains, as well as in CTA facilities (such as train stations and at bus turnarounds, terminals and stops).

On this page:


Prohibited activities

Per CTA Ordinance #016-110 and Ordinance #024-02 identifies activities that are not allowed on property owned, operated or maintained by the CTA:

  • Littering
  • Smoking
  • Use of electronic cigarettes
  • Gambling
  • Peddling
  • Soliciting
  • Spitting
  • Graffiti
  • Loitering and trespassing
  • Skateboarding, rollerblading or use of hover- or "hubber-"boards
  • Possessing a weapon (except pepper spray)
  • Using or consuming drugs or alcohol
  • Playing radios or using other devices that make sound others may hear
  • Interfering with CTA service by tampering with equipment
  • Indecent exposure or sexual conduct
  • Drunken, disorderly or disruptive conduct
  • Obstructing stairs, corridors, platforms, stations or otherwise hindering access to public areas
  • Harassment or bullying
  • Possessing luggage or large personal items that block passenger exit or entry or that can't be brought into a station or on to a CTA bus or train in one trip
  • Passing through, around or under a railroad grade crossing when the gate is closed or being opened or closed
  • Failure to follow a lawful direction or request from a CTA employee, representative or security agent or police
  • Obstruct or hinder access to any public area
  • Eat or drink any food or beverage on board buses or trains (it is OK in stations, but be sure to dispose of trash properly)
  • Cross between train cars under any circumstances, unless directed to do so during an emergency
  • Post bills or distribute materials in the paid area of transit stations or on CTA vehicles
  • Perform music or other entertainment unless you have a valid permit and identification under the governing CTA ordinance and you do so within a designated performance area
  • Offer, accept or otherwise exchange farecards (such as giving someone else a card with a remaining, active transfer)

Violating any of these prohibitions may be subject to arrest or immediate removal from CTA property, fines, community service, court supervision and/or an order for restitution.

Information See our Rules of Conduct page for full details.

Note: Additional rules not listed in this ordinance may be established by CTA or the Chicago Transit Board and enforced by CTA employees and local police. Please follow instructions given by CTA or law enforcement personnel. Non-compliance may also result in removal from CTA property or arrest.

Subway performers

Artists – including but not limited to those who sing, dance, play musical instruments, paint, juggle, rap, recite or orate – are welcome to perform on CTA either individually or as a group, so long as the following requirements are met, per CTA Ordinance 006-075:

  • Each artist must be in possession of a valid CTA Performer’s Permit (this is separate from the permit issued by the City of Chicago)
  • Performances are only allowed in the designated performer’s area on the platform (see platform signage) of the following three (3) CTA subway stations:
    • Jackson Red Line
    • Washington Blue Line
    • Jackson Blue Line
  • Availability of any of these areas is on a first come, first served basis
  • Sound of performer may not exceed 80 decibels measured from 10 feet away
  • No performer may obstruct, interfere with or hinder the orderly flow of traffic including ingress and egress from paid areas of CTA
  • No performer may use any CTA bench
  • All performers must be prepared to vacate immediately in the event of any emergency
  • When performing, each performer must also prominently display his or her identification badge/permit issued by the CTA

Individuals who perform in an unauthorized location or in a designated area without a permit can be issued a citation by the Chicago Police Department and are subject to a fine and/or court appearance.

Obtaining a Performer's Permit

Those interested in obtaining a CTA Performer’s Permit must fill out an application, which is available at the CTA Customer Service desk located on the second floor at 567 W. Lake Street.

When submitting the completed form, applicants will need to have a photo ID and $10 for each person applying to perform. Auditions are not part of the application process.

Upon completion of the application process, each performer will be issued a permit containing his/her photo, which will be valid for one year from the date of issuance. Permits must be prominently displayed when performing on CTA. 


Service animals (animals that are trained to perform tasks for individuals with disabilities, as defined by the Department of Transportation (DOT) regulations) are permitted on CTA property and vehicles at all times.

Only small pets, inside of a closed protective carrier designed for travel and able to be carried by one person, are allowed on CTA buses and trains. Carriers must be constructed in a manner that ensures the protection of other riders and of a size that is able to fit under a seat (though they may be kept on a rider’s lap instead of under a seat). Carriers, however, cannot take up or obstruct their own seats, seating areas nor pathways on buses, trains or in stations.

To ensure the comfort of others, animals in carriers need to behave in such a way that does not disturb others. Customers traveling with any animal must be in complete control of the animal at all times. Customers traveling with any animal are responsible for the behavior of the animal.

We reserve the right to remove from CTA vehicles or property any animals (including service animals) which act aggressively or pose a direct threat to others.


Children in strollers

Children in open strollers are welcome on CTA, however we encourage parents to be considerate of other customers and adhere to these rules when traveling with a stroller.

Keep strollers clear of aisles and doorways aboard buses and trains.

If a bus or train becomes crowded, please fold your stroller to make room for others. Also, if a bus or train is crowded, a CTA employee may ask you to fold your stroller or wait for another vehicle—please follow their instructions. During certain periods of high ridership, we may require that all strollers be folded before you board.

Seniors and riders with disabilities have priority use of the Priority Seating area aboard buses and trains. If these seats are not in use, open strollers may be parked in this area. This will help you to avoid blocking the aisle. Please yield this space if a rider with a disability, a senior, or a person using a mobility device wishes to board. On buses, you may request use of the access ramp or lift to help you board and exit.

Children in an open stroller should be seated and secured in the stroller before boarding the bus or train.

Note that strollers are never allowed on escalators. If traveling with an open stroller in a multi-level facility, please use elevators or ramps where available. On train station platforms, position your stroller parallel to the platform edge (not facing it), use wheel locks/brakes and stay with it at all times.



In general, simple personal (non-commercial) photography and video recording are permitted on CTA property and vehicles. Use of ancillary equipment, such as a tripod, or taking pictures or video of non-public areas of CTA property are not permitted.

We've put together a Photography & Video Policy page to explain the policy in some detail. It also provides some helpful tips. We encourage you to familiarize yourself with the policy.


Being a good neighbor on transit

You can help make sure everyone has a safe and pleasant trip on the CTA.

Here are some tips to help you be a good neighbor on transit:

  • Move all the way in when boarding train cars, or all the way to the rear on buses to make room for everyone.
  • Keep packages, bags or luggage on your lap or between your feet on buses and trains to avoid blocking aisles.
  • If a bus or train gets crowded, fold your stroller or cart.
  • Take everything you brought on board with you when you leave (including newspapers).
  • Use trash receptacles and recycling bins, as appropriate.
  • Keep your feet and belongings off of empty seats to allow others to sit down.
  • Be mindful of others when talking on your phone or using electronics which others may hear (including ringtones). If you’re carrying on a conversation by text message, turn your ringer down or put your phone on vibrate.
  • Allow exiting passengers out of a bus or train before attempting to board.


Help us keep service moving and on-time. Please:

  • Have your fare ready before you board a bus or approach a turnstile.
  • Stand clear of doors so people can easily enter and exit vehicles.
  • Allow exiting passengers to leave before you attempt to board.
  • Don’t hold a train in a station—if you need extra time before boarding, wait for the next train (they’re usually only a few minutes apart).

Thank you!

Following these rules and recommendations (as well as instructions from CTA employees while using our services) helps to make CTA more enjoyable for everyone! Thank you for your cooperation.



Further reading