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  1. CTA Tips/Help for a Visting Family

    We got back from our trip yesterday so I thought I'd pop in to thank you all again for answering my questions. Your responses and advice came in handy and made our travels go much more smoothly than they would have otherwise gone. We found that, for the most part, traveling with two young children and a large stroller did not cause too many problems. We folded the stroller up before boarding any bus or train, and were always able to find a somewhat of-out-the-way place to hold it while standing or sitting. As far as bus lines go, we rode the 2 from the Loop to Navy Pier during rush hour. We probably could have walked the distance quicker, so lesson learned there. We also took the 151 to and from the Lincoln Park Zoo area and the 6 to and from the Museum of Science and Industry. Drivers and passengers alike were courteous on all of our rides. The most difficult part of our trip took place when coming and going from the airport. Coming into the city, we took the Orange line to the State/Lake stop and were disappointed to discover a lack of elevators. It was a failure on my part to not research that ahead of time, and I would have kicked myself had I not been so overwhelmed with trying to get our luggage and suitcases (and kids) down the staircases with a crowd of people forming behind us. We used the Randolph/Wabash station (also not accessible) on our way back to Midway, but waited for a lull in traffic before making the climb. We took the Red line twice from Lake to Fullerton and back. The Lake station is listed as accessible, but I was never able to locate the elevator from the street level (and never asked, since it wasn't a big deal). In DC the elevators are sometimes blocks from the Metro stop entrances, but WMATA helpfully has .pdf street maps available that show the locations of elevators, so it's possible something similar exists on the CTA site and I just couldn't find it. Anyway, in closing we had a very enjoyable visit and were pleased that the public transit options allowed us to go everywhere we wanted. It was a relief to not have to rent a car, deal with traffic, pay for parking, etc. We did find that a shade under a week wasn't near enough time to hit even 25% of the attractions, neighborhoods, and restaurants that we would have liked. I'll keep the Ventra card handy, since I'm sure we'll be back sometime soon! Thanks again!
  2. CTA Tips/Help for a Visting Family

    Thank you all for the information and advice. I've downloaded the two apps recommended above and plan to use those in conjunction with Google Maps to figure out which bus lines we need to take. I've looked over the bus route maps on the CTA site and I think I prefer the smartphone route.
  3. Hello, My wife and I will be coming to Chicago later this month and will have two kids in tow (ages 2 and 4). This may not be an appropriate forum for these questions, so feel free to disregard if that's the case. However, after reading through the "How-To Guides" on the CTA's site, I still have a few lingering questions. My hope is to get them answered prior to our trip rather than figuring them out on the fly in order to avoid inconveniencing you locals. We'll be flying into MDW and taking the train to our hotel off of Michigan Ave. After that I imagine most of our travel will be via bus. I have ordered and received a Ventra card, and the CTA site indicates that my wife and I can share the card (provided we tell the bus driver that we're doing so). Is there anything else I need to know about that process or is it that simple? Most of the time we are out and about we will have a sit-and-stand stroller along for the ride. A Google search reveals that strollers have been a contentious topic in the past and I want to make sure we are following best practices. I've read that we should have the stroller folded and ready to load when the bus arrives. It folds pretty easily but is definitely not a compact as an umbrella stroller. Once we board the bus, where should we (and the stroller) go? Is there a diagram of the different seating (and standing) areas on the bus available so that someone can show us the most considerate placement (as well as some alternatives if that spot is taken). What about strollers (and large suitcases) on the train? We travelled to DC last summer and generally kept the kids in the stroller while we rode and tried to find (sometimes unsuccessfully) an out-of-the-way area to park. The CTA site said that bus stops will be announced both visually and audibly. This is probably a stupid question, but is the protocol to wait until the stop is announced to request it or do I need to be planning ahead and request it a block or so earlier? Once the bus stops, do the rear doors automatically open or is there a button or bar that needs to be pushed? Thanks for any help you can provide. My guess is that the bus and train rides will rank high on the kids' favorite activities and I'd like to do everything I can to make sure they are enjoyable for the grown-ups as well. Edit: Looks like I didn't make it past my first post without screwing up. I meant to put it in on the CTA General Discussion board. Can a mod move it for me?