Chicago Our Campus: Getting Around the City
As in many large cities, there are several options to get you around town. Having a car in Chicago can be useful at times, but it often takes special consideration because of limited parking downtown and in popular neighborhoods. Where parking garages and metered parking are available, the costs can add up quickly. Having a car is often unnecessary, and many Chicagoans don’t own a car. Public transportation via the elevated train/subway (“the L”) or buses is often the most cost-effective and convenient option, especially if you are an SAIC student with a Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) U-Pass.
The CTA U-Pass is a transit pass provided for all full-time SAIC students. The cost of the U-Pass will be charged to each full-time student's tuition and fees account, and it provides unlimited travel on all CTA buses and trains (the U-Pass does not include Metra trains and Pace buses). Full-time students should pick up a new U-Pass at the beginning of each term from the ARTICard office. For more information about the CTA U-Pass, please visit the CTA website.
The Regional Transit Authority (RTA) oversees the Chicago Transit Authority (CTA), Metra Commuter rail, and Pace bus transit options. The CTA operates buses and trains within the city and near suburbs, while Metra trains and Pace buses travel farther into the suburbs.
For detailed maps, customer alerts, and fare information, visit the CTA website (transitchicago.com). Use the “Trip Planner” function to find out how to get wherever you need to go. Google Maps (maps.google.com) also offers a convenient trip planner function if you select the “Public Transit” option when you request directions. If you’re already on the road, you can also call the Travel Information hotline for directions at 312.836.7000.
Check the hours of operation for the lines you want to use—not all lines have late-night service. At the time of this posting, a train ride on the CTA costs $2.25 and bus ride costs $2.00 with a fare card. For $0.25 more, you can transfer to another bus or train within two hours, and a second transfer is free. You can add more money to your card at the CTA vending machines located in “L” and subway stations.
Unlimited–ride passes are available for select periods and paying with cash instead of a fare card will cost more. Metra rail lines and Pace bus routes operate on another fare system. For full details, please visit the appropriate websites.
Taxis are another option for traveling through the city, especially if you are traveling short distances downtown. You can catch a cab easily from almost any major intersection. If you are in a location where cabs are few and far between, you will probably want to call ahead. However, if you are heading to the airport or have an appointment, keep in mind that it is not unheard of for a cab to be late for its scheduled pick-up.
Car sharing is an alternative to traditional car ownership or car rentals. There are car sharing “clubs” where members pay a fee to share cars provided and maintained by a car sharing company. Typically, the fees include insurance and gas. Cars can be borrowed by the hour or by the day, which makes car sharing very useful for grocery shopping or a day trip to the suburbs. Listed below are two car sharing options that service Chicago.
773.278.4446 (24-hour assistance line)
Bicycles and Repair
If you have a bike, you can take advantage of the 18-mile biking/walking/rollerblading/jogging/skipping path that runs along Lake Michigan from Hollywood Avenue on the North Side to 71st Street on the South Side.
McDonald's Cycle Center in Millennium Park
239 E. Randolph St.
The Cycle Center in Millennium Park provides bike repair, bike parking, rentals, and showers for bicycle commuters, and bike maps. Enter on Randolph Street.
Cycle Bike Shop Inc.
1465 S. Michigan Ave.
- 811 S. Desplaines St.
- 3255 N. Milwaukee Ave.
- 3712 N. Halsted Ave.
- 219 W. Erie St.
Village Cycle Center
1337 N. Wells St.