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Chicago Transportation Options

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May 30, 2024

Driving in the city can be crazy overwhelming with traffic, finding parking, and just overall super expensive to pay for gas on top of ~$300/mo parking spot in your apartment. Even if you find street parking, you might need to pay for a permit as well (or if you get lucky and always find free spots, we envy you). Other than Chicago’s crazy walkability, there are a ton of other transportation options that might save you a few bucks. We are here to lend a helping hand on all of the different options with cost breakdowns below. 


Chicago Train

Train or “The L”  (obviously)

The L is the most known form of transportation, and fairly easy to figure out with the different colors of lines. It runs all day, with some lines closing earlier than others at night. You can get all the way to Midway Airport south of the city on the orange line, all the way to Evanston on the Purple, and even out to O’hare on the Blue. So no need to splurge on an uber or pay for airport parking! Using the Ventra app on your phone, you can select a line/station close to you and see when the train you need is coming, so you can know when to be there and catch it. 

Let’s talk money: For a one way pass it is $2.50, a 1 day pass is $5, 3 day $15, 7 day $20 and 30 day $75. $75 a month is pretty good compared to paying ~$300/mo for a parking spot at your apartment, plus gas, plus car insurance. Did I mention these prices also include bus travels?!


Chicago bus on road


The CTA bus is pretty popular for city natives, but a little more confusing to figure out at first. You use the same Ventra app to see when each bus is coming to each stop, and your train Ventra pass also includes any bus travel! Or vice versa. So for example, if you purchase a $5 day pass, you can take the train and bus for that price all day. The only difference is that a single ride bus pass is $0.25 cents less, coming at $2.25 for a single ride. The bus and the train are like two peas in a pod! If the train gets you halfway to your destination and you don’t walk to walk the rest, there is probably a bus that can take you the rest of the way. 

Let’s talk money: Same prices as the Ventra train (prices include both bus and train travel) Woo!


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Divvy Bikes/Scooters

Another great option is biking around the city! Not only do you get a good workout with biking, but you can explore some other paths you might not be able to take while in a car, bus or on the train. There is nothing quite like biking along the lakefront trail in some good weather. When riding around the city, you do have to ride on the streets, but the lakefront trail has a specific section for bikers so it is a lot less overwhelming not having to worry about other cars or one way streets! Also, the lakefront trail has connections to get back into the city when you have reached your destination, so it is super easy to get where you are going. Not wanting a workout, try one of their electric bikes or a scooter! You get the same fun with a lot less effort. Just remember to find a Divvy station to park them at at the end of the ride. You can find out where the stations are to start and end your ride on the Divvy or Lyft app!

Let’s talk money: They have a few different packages, so here are the comparisons directly from their website:

Copy of In blog image template
*Photo taken directly from Divvy website


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Chicago Water Taxi

BONUS OPTION!! This is such a fun and unique way to get around the city. The Water Taxi stops in 2 different places, Ogilvie (West Loop), Michigan Ave, and Chinatown. On a nice summer day, this is such a fun option to get around, especially if you are headed down to Chinatown. You can sit back, relax, and enjoy all of the skyline views. Extra points if you are traveling with friends who are from out-of-town. You can give them their own little architecture tour as you float past all of the famous buildings. 

Let’s talk money: They have 3 options, a one way ticket that is $10, a Commuter Pass for $25 that gets you 10 rides, and an All Day Pass for $25 to take it all around all day as you please. Not the most budget friendly, but definitely a fun activity to do this summer!

With all of these options, there is always the ability to walk, catch an Uber, rollerblade, or skateboard around; weather permitting. You just have to make sure you are following any of the street rules while on wheels! Hopefully this can help you figure out which option fits your budget best, so you can focus on getting to enjoy living in the best city ever! 

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