Photo Briefs

Exploring the CTA Rail System

The Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) is the country’s second-largest public transportation system, providing bus and rail services to the city of Chicago and 35 suburbs. Although Loyola provides an intercampus shuttle service, many Loyola students use the CTA to travel between the two campuses.

Students travel for free on the CTA with the U-Pass, a transit card that allows unlimited rides on CTA trains and buses. The $135 U-Pass fee is included in tuition for full-time undergraduate and graduate students. The fee is $146 for Corboy Law School students and $97 for Quinlan graduate business students. Students in Arrupe College don’t pay a separate fee for the U-Pass because it’s included as part of their student development fee.

The U-Pass program, which began in 2005, was created after the CTA received a grant, which they put toward providing Chicago-area universities and their full-time students discounted train and bus fares, according to Bryan Goodwin, the U-Pass program director. Loyola students take advantage of the U-Pass to get to class and explore the city.

Hali Barany, a senior visual communications major, said she has ridden almost every line except for the Pink and Yellow Lines, two of the CTA’s eight routes.

“It’s pretty easy to use with the U-Pass, you just hop on and off,” Hali Barany, 21, said.

Some Loyola students refrain from using the CTA for safety reasons.

“I used to think [the train] was really fun when it was brand new to me,” senior Molly Ketterer said. “I stopped using it as much, I use the bus more, because especially on the Red Line there’s a lot more homeless people and I don’t always feel safe.”

Here are some facts about the 70-year-old rail system from the CTA website.

  • The average weekday sees 1.6 million riders using the CTA. Of those, an average of 767,730 people rode the train in 2015, which is slightly lower than the 873,147 people who rode the bus.
  • The eight routes are distinguished by color and cover 224.1 miles of track. The CTA officially adopted colors for line names Feb. 21, 1993. The O’Hare-Congress-Douglas became the Blue Line — the Douglas branch of the former became the Pink Line, which is also the newest route, running since 2006.
  • Two lines underwent two changes: the Howard-Englewood-Jackson Park changed to the Howard-Dan Ryan before becoming the Red Line and the Lake-Dan Ryan changed to the Lake-Englewood-Jackson Park before becoming the Green Line.
  • Other transitions included one name change. The Ravenswood became the Brown Line, the Skokie Swift became the Yellow Line and the Evanston Express became the Purple Line.
  • The Orange Line, which was planned as the Southwest Route, opened after the CTA switched to the colored names system.
  • The CTA fleet has 1,492 rail cars. In an Oct. 1 event to celebrate the CTA’s 70th birthday, people were able to ride vintage rail cars, some dating back to the 1920s. Today, trains make about 2,276 trips a day, passing through the system’s 145 stations.
  • The nickname for the rail system is the ‘L’ — capitalized and in quotation marks — as the CTA clarified in a February 2012 tweet. ‘El,’ as the train is called, refers to the elevated portion of the tracks, while ‘L’ applies to the whole rail system, the tweet said.


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