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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?

 

Edited by Incoming
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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?

 

​Firstly, welcome to the forum and (in a couple weeks) to Chicago!

Yes, you can share a Ventra card. You can tap up to seven people on the card at one stop or bus, provided it has the necessary funds. 1/3/7-day passes can only be used by one person as far as I know, but if you are simply paying with fares, it should work fine for the two of you. As both of your children are under 7, they ride free.

In terms of the stroller, while on the train, you can hold it upright in front of you or prop it up against the wall depending on where you sit. Some Orange line trains have less seats than others, so there are a number of places you can hold it or place it where it won't be in the way. On the bus, there is usually a waist-level flat area near the front door where you can lay it down. You can exit through the front doors, or via the back doors (you'll have to push on them to open them, but they will stay open once you do that). You should request your stop as soon as you can after the previous one passes; sometimes the system doesn't announce it soon enough. If you're unsure, you can usually wait until the announcement.

Hope this helps! Other forum members will surely have additional advice as well.

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Welcome!

It's okay to board with an open stroller outside of peak hours, provided that the bus or train isn't particularly crowded. Here's CTA's stroller policy.

On the train, the priority seating area at the end of a car will have plenty of open space for a stroller and luggage. At Midway you should have a fairly good chance of finding a car that's not too crowded.

If you have an Android or iPhone, I'd recommend installed Citymapper (best for directions and service alerts) and/or Transit (best for viewing arrival times, but can also give directions).

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Good evening, and welcome to the forums! I don't ride CTA buses that much, and other forum members will give you better results, so please take my advice with a grain of salt.

To be more clear on bus announcements, buses audibly announce stops starting with a *bing* noise, followed by the street you're on, then the cross street. For example, an 8/Halsted bus would announce the stop at Halsted at Lake Street as *Bing* Halsted and Lake. For familiarity, the same voice is used on external speakers when the bus pulls up to a stop -"Route 8 Halsted to Broadway." for an example- and on the CTA trains.

 On the bus, I personally don't "pull the cord" until the exact stop I want is announced, so that I don't activate a false stop. If you can't reach the cord, there should be buttons by the doors that will do the same purpose. For most of the buses (the ones that look like boxes on wheels), to exit, there will be a green light above the doors that will illuminate when the doors can open. Buses have sensors mounted on the door panels that open the doors when you place your hand near the doors, and they should open. Enjoy your ride! :)

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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?

 

​It's a really long walk from the Midway Terminal to the Orange Line L station. The Orange Line L train doesn't go to Michigan Ave. You will have to transfer, either to the Red Line at Roosevelt, which is a long trip down a few escalators or a couple of elevators. Only the northern exit/entrance takes you to the subway. To get to your hotel, you'll have to transfer to a bus at either Chicago/State or Grand/State, whichever is closer or just walk the rest of the way. Unless your hotel is one in The Loop or just east of the Loop, then you can stay on the Orange Line train & ride all the way around the Loop to one of the two Wabash stations.

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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.

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​It's a really long walk from the Midway Terminal to the Orange Line L station. ...

​I guess you have not been there since the Midway Terminal was rebuilt. You have to walk through the parking garage, but it is not like it was when there was the half mile covered pedestrian bridge.

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​It's a really long walk from the Midway Terminal to the Orange Line L station...

​I guess you have not been there since the Midway Terminal was rebuilt. You have to walk through the parking garage, but it is not like it was when there was the half mile covered pedestrian bridge.

​If you factor in the walk from your plane, most of the time you'll be walking a good distance from the plane to the train, at O'Hare or Midway. Standing around waiting for your bags at the carousel and the cold or hot weather (in the L passageways at Midway) won't make you feel much better unfortunately.

Even so, I'd still rather take the train for $2.25 for a relaxing 30 minute ride than wait in line outside for a $20+ cab.

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​If you factor in the walk from your plane, most of the time you'll be walking a good distance from the plane to the train, at O'Hare or Midway. Standing around waiting for your bags at the carousel and the cold or hot weather (in the L passageways at Midway) won't make you feel much better unfortunately.

Even so, I'd still rather take the train for $2.25 for a relaxing 30 minute ride than wait in line outside for a $20+ cab.

​And you will have about the same walk to the cab stand. One way or the other, you have to get from the airside on the west side of Cicero to the terminal on the east.

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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.

​Transit tracks for me can't be beat for a transit app. It not only tells you when the bus is coming, but where it is and how long it will take to get to your stop and it runs really fast and flows well. You can even look up how fast it will come to where you will get off. This enables you to get connections with ease and gives you an informed decision. Most of the downtown bus shelters have countdown clocks right at the shelter so you might be able to access that info without a smartphone. All "L" stops have countdown clocks as well.

Do you know you can buy passes at ventrachicago.com and put it right on your card. If you are planning to do excessive traveling, you might want to see what best fits your budget. A bus pass can be the cheapest way to see the entire city, if that's your interest and if you get on a wrong bus, no problem you didn't lose anything just your time. The city is pretty big and there's lots to see. (Mich Ave, State street, Navy Pier, Museum Campus, Museum of Science and Industry, which I think has the only U-boat on american soil, Lincoln Pk zoo, one of only 3 free zoos in america.)

One other thing is the buses tend to get crowded especially in the loop during the rush. This may make using a stroller hard, but not impossible. The red line does get neck to neck with people on the train in the rush so be advised of that. Overall you will probably enjoy your trip here. I think we have some of the best museums in the USA.

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​I guess you have not been there since the Midway Terminal was rebuilt. You have to walk through the parking garage, but it is not like it was when there was the half mile covered pedestrian bridge.

​It's three years since I took the L to Midway.

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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!

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Somehow this isn't let me quote.

Usually, the lack of a symbol, such as State and Lake (elevated) indicates that it is not accessible, and it is usually assumed that one uses Clark and Lake or Library.

However, I can't figure out the wheelchair symbol apparently on the pedway on the Loop inset maps. Washington-State was accessible, but that was closed to build the hole in the ground for the nonexistent Block 37 station (under 108 N. State). Maybe someone more familiar with the replacement pedway can explain the situation.

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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.  

​Glad to hear your trip went well!

The elevator for Lake is located one block south, across street from Macy's. Perhaps some additional signage is warranted at the other entrances.

 

However, I can't figure out the wheelchair symbol apparently on the pedway on the Loop inset maps. Washington-State was accessible, but that was closed to build the hole in the ground for the nonexistent Block 37 station (under 108 N. State). Maybe someone more familiar with the replacement pedway can explain the situation.

​The elevator for accessing Lake is part of the Randolph-Washington mezzanine, which provides access to both Lake and the pedway system. This mezzanine also previously provided access to Washington/State, but that side has since been gated off.

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​Glad to hear your trip went well!

The elevator for Lake is located one block south, across street from Macy's. Perhaps some additional signage is warranted at the other entrances.

​The elevator for accessing Lake is part of the Randolph-Washington mezzanine, which provides access to both Lake and the pedway system. This mezzanine also previously provided access to Washington/State, but that side has since been gated off.

​I was thinking he could have rode the elevator to the Randolph-Wash mezzanine and then rode the elevator inside block 37, which is the mall attached to that mezzanine. I'm surprised CTA hasn't figured out an elevator from Washington blue line to the mezzanine is as good as one to the street if using the malls elevators. Of course if the mall is closed you can't do this, but it's an option. 

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sorry for bumping this old thread but I am near the belmont blue line stop and a significant portion of stations do not have elevators and very steep stairs, additionally the gates are too small to even bring a stroller through and no wheel chair access. The stairs are steep and i find myself having to find other ways to bring my son down through the subway. This is very frustrating as I am not trying to violate cta rules, but the only way to go up is literally via either escalator or carrying the stroller like a stretcher. What do people in wheel chairs do and what does CTA expect us to do?

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1 hour ago, ctowntravel said:

sorry for bumping this old thread but I am near the belmont blue line stop and a significant portion of stations do not have elevators and very steep stairs, additionally the gates are too small to even bring a stroller through and no wheel chair access. The stairs are steep and i find myself having to find other ways to bring my son down through the subway. This is very frustrating as I am not trying to violate cta rules, but the only way to go up is literally via either escalator or carrying the stroller like a stretcher. What do people in wheel chairs do and what does CTA expect us to do?

CTA is a very old system which didn't really take things like wheelchairs and strollers into consideration prior o ADA.  CTA has made al of its buses and trains accessible.  Making al stations accessible  is a very expensive task.  Nobody wants to pay $10 fares to help pay, so CTA can only do what it can when it can.  I'm sure NYC is in a similar situation.   You may have to use Addison station and alter your trip since Addison is accessible and isn't nearly as steep.

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5 hours ago, ctowntravel said:

sorry for bumping this old thread but I am near the belmont blue line stop and a significant portion of stations do not have elevators and very steep stairs, additionally the gates are too small to even bring a stroller through and no wheel chair access. The stairs are steep and i find myself having to find other ways to bring my son down through the subway. This is very frustrating as I am not trying to violate cta rules, but the only way to go up is literally via either escalator or carrying the stroller like a stretcher. What do people in wheel chairs do and what does CTA expect us to do?

There's always Logan square blue line also if coming from the south or the #82. The #76 also goes right to the front entrance. All that renovation that's going on at Belmont is supposed to be done by the end of the year. I'm surprised with all that work, $15 million in upgrades, there is no elevator installation. They are really doing alot of digging and drilling there but it must be for the canopy supports. They claim an elevator is coming as phase 2, but it's still in the engineering phase. It should look similar to Logan square when done. 

 

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21 hours ago, artthouwill said:

CTA is a very old system which didn't really take things like wheelchairs and strollers into consideration prior o ADA.  CTA has made al of its buses and trains accessible.  Making al stations accessible  is a very expensive task.  Nobody wants to pay $10 fares to help pay, so CTA can only do what it can when it can.  I'm sure NYC is in a similar situation.   You may have to use Addison station and alter your trip since Addison is accessible and isn't nearly as steep.

According to the various TA websites, NYC's MTA, Philadelphia's SEPTA, NYC/NJ's PATH, PATCO, Boston's MBTA, and Cleveland's RTA are not 100% accessible. As @artthouwill said, these are all old systems and retrofitting them is very expensive. 

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