The primary public transportation system in the city is run by the Chicago Transit Authority (CTA). Additionally, there is commuter rail system run by Metra Rail. While most local public transportation needs will be best met by the CTA, the Metra Electric line provides another convenient means to get to the Museum Campus and Downtown. Read below to find more detailed information about fares, schedules, and routes for both CTA and METRA.
The CTA operates the nation’s second largest public transportation system and covers the City of Chicago and 35 surrounding suburbs. The following will give you a few tips to help you navigate the CTA system during your time in Chicago. You can always find more detailed information on routes and fares at the CTA’s homepage. It is always a good idea to check the CTA’s page for up to date information about delays or rerouting of buses.
You can track all CTA buses and trains.
The CTA Bus Tracker is the official source for current arrival information. You can find estimated arrival times, map current bus locations, or get information via text. If you are waiting at a bus stop, the sign will also contain information on how to text for arrival information. The web version of the estimated arrival time page works well on most smart phones and can be found here. But if you prefer a text only/mobile version you can find that here.
You can also get information about train arrivals by using CTA Train Tracker. Like the bus tracker, arrival information is available via the web or text. In this instance, the mobile version is far easier to navigate, especially on smart phones and other mobile devices.
CTA Fare information
For a comprehensive break down on fares see the CTA’s page. But here are some important tips to keep in mind about paying for your CTA fares:
- CASH: You can use cash on buses ONLY (not for trains). The cost is $2.25 per ride and you MUST use exact change.
- VENTRA: The CTA primarily uses Ventra for its fares and passes. Ventra cards cost $5 at vending machines which are located at all “L” stops. If you register your card then your $5 will be refunded as transit funds. If you would like to get a Ventra card, you can purchase one in advance of your trip and have it mailed to your home address. (Go here for details).
- PAPER TICKETS: Buying a permanent Ventra card is not necessarily practical for a short visit. Single ride paper tickets are also available at all Ventra vending machines (EXCEPT at O’Hare). A single ride ticket is $3 (which includes a transfer and can be used on trains). You can also buy a 1-Day pass at vending machines for $10.
- OTHER PAYMENT METHODS: Ventra can accept any bank-issued card in your wallet with the symbol to pay fare. You can pay a PAYG fare or visit a vending machine to load value and passes. Ventra readers can also accept contactless payments directly from mobile devices. You can pay a PAYG fare by touching your phone with Apple Pay or Android Pay to any Ventra reader. (Go here for details)
- Please note that trains from O’Hare Airport cost $5, regardless of how you pay your fare.
There are two CTA operated bus routes that will help you get around Hyde Park. Standard CTA fares apply on these routes.
- #171 U. of Chicago/Hyde Park: Services Lake Shore Drive/54th Street and the 55th-56th-57th Street Metra station. This route travels to campus on 55th Street and Ellis Avenue and then circles campus. This route operates weekdays from 7:02 a.m. to 6:32 p.m.; weekends from 8:02 a.m. to 6:32 p.m. After Summer Convocation, a reduced service schedule goes into effect.
- #172 U. of Chicago/Kenwood Services Lake Shore Drive/50th Street and the Hyde Park-53rd Street Metra station. This route travels to campus on Hyde Park Boulevard and Ellis Avenue and then circles around campus. This route operates weekdays from 7 a.m. to 6:37 p.m.; weekends from 8 a.m. to 6:37 p.m. After Summer Convocation, a reduced service schedule goes into effect.
The most common bus routes in and out of Hyde Park are:
Other routes that operate near campus are:
- #2 Hyde Park Express – operates only during rush periods Monday through Friday
- #10 Museum of Science and Industry – operates only on weekends and holidays. This is not the most convenient way to get out of Hyde Park, but it is a good option if you are downtown on State Street and just missed the #6.
- #28 Stony Island – mostly a local bus, but it does go to and from Union Station in the mornings and afternoons on weekdays.
Metra is the commuter rail agency serving Cook, DuPage, Will, Lake, Kane and McHenry counties in the Chicago area. The primary line for commutes in Hyde Park is the Metra Electric, which connects Millennium Station in downtown Chicago, with the city’s southern suburbs.
Scheduling information can be found here.
There are three stations in Hyde Park along Lake Park. Entrances to the station can be found under the tracks.
The three most common destinations downtown are:
- Museum Campus / 11th Street* (Field Museum, Adler Planetarium, Shedd Aquarium)
- Van Buren Street(both the Van Buren and the Millennium Station provide easy access to the Art Institute)
- Millennium Station
- For full information on Metra fares see the breakdown
- A one-way ticket from Hyde Park to downtown costs ($3.50). You can buy tickets from a conductor on the train. BUT, there is a $3.00 surcharge if there is an agent or ticketing machine available at the station where you board.
- There are also weekend passes for $8. Weekend passes include unlimited rides on Saturday and Sunday.