The Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) operates the nation's second largest public transportation system, which provides bus and metro train service through the City of Chicago and in 35 neighboring communities.
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.
Hours of service
Most of our train routes operate from the early morning until the late evening, as do key bus routes that cross the city. Hours of service vary, so be sure to check schedules or use a Trip Planner before you go.
Red Line and Blue Line train service operates at all times (24 hours per day, every day) as well as several bus routes.
See our Fares page for detailed information on fares. Note that cash fare on buses, disposable ticket fares or paying with Apple Pay, Google Pay or Samsung Pay apps are different than fares loaded on a Ventra Card.
Service alerts & updates
Real-time arrival information
Fare & ticket information
Ventra (fare payment system)
How to ride
How to ride the train
Our train system (known here as The ‘L’) provides rides for hundreds of thousands of people every day, from over 140 stations located throughout the city and neighboring communities and towns.
- Enter the station and pay fare.
When you enter a train station, you can pay your fare at the turnstile or gate. Every station has Ventra Vending Machines where you can buy reusable Ventra Cards (which can be loaded with fare value for up to seven riders and up to three passes for one rider) or disposable tickets if you need to buy fare.
Note: You can also buy new Ventra Cards or load fare to them, over-the-counter, at more than 1,000 Ventra retail locations.
- Make your way to the boarding area.
Stations have maps and signs to help you find your way. Trains are distinguished by their route name (color) and destination.
Follow signs to the boarding area for your train. Once at the platform, wait near the signs that indicate where trains stop.
When the train arrives, note the train's route and destination. A Blue (blue) Line train to O'Hare will say "O'Hare" on a blue background on the front and side of the train.
How to ride a bus
- Stand near a CTA Bus Stop (bus stop) sign.
Bus stops are usually located one or two blocks apart. Stand near the sign and where the person driving the bus will be able to see you. Buses stop only at marked bus stops (except in Evanston, where you can wait at safe intersections along a route for a bus).
- Check the destination sign as the bus approaches.
Some stops are served by multiple routes and not all buses go to the end of the line: Read the sign to see the bus route number, name, and where it's headed. When the bus opens its doors, it will also audibly announce the bus's route and destination.
Have your fare (exact change, a Ventra Card or Ventra Ticket) ready when the bus approaches and pay your fare as you enter. Buses announce stops both audibly and visually inside the bus.
Here are some more detailed pages of information to help you use our system.
See a list of other pages on this website
Quick trip planner
Quick trip planner