With gas prices soaring over $4 per gallon, travel around Chicago is increasingly expensive. That doesn’t mean that you cannot go to the city. Public transportation is a economical way to get to the city from the suburbs and to get around within the city. Many people who live in and around Chicago avoid driving into The Loop, even when gas prices are low. Metra trains offer the ease of letting someone else do the driving in addition to savings on gas.
The City of Chicago endorses the use of public transportation, especially for heavily attended festival an events, such as Taste of Chicago or the Chicago Air and Water Show. Public transportation eases the burden of traffic in the city and makes travel in Chicago safer
Metra trains travel to and from Chicago from the suburbs that surround the Windy City. Metra trains travel along routes originating from Antioch, Fox Lake, Harvard/McHenry, Elgin, Elburn, Aurora, Joliet, Manhattan and University Park in Illinois. There is also a route from Kenosha, Wisconsin. Metra trains has several stops along the route. Check the schedule at the Metra website for stations and times. Fares depend upon the station of departure and arrival, but are generally under $6 one way. The weekend pass is a deal that offers unlimited train travel for the entire weekend for $5.
When deciding whether train or car travel is less expensive, consider how many people are traveling and compare the cost of train tickets to the cost of gas for the trip. Another factor is the price of parking garages in the city. Street parking can be very hard to find in the city. Paid parking lots can easily run $25, just to park the car. The combination of gas prices and parking runs the price of driving into the city out of range for a lot of people.
Once in the city, there are several ways to get around. Fit people can walk to many of the city attractions. Get a map of the city to keep on a route. If you choose to walk, ask a local person for advice on safe areas and areas to avoid. Generally, when you leave the train station, head east to where the most interesting attractions. Be aware that distances are farther than they look on a map. It is better to pay for a taxi cab than to get blisters on your feet or overdo exercise on the concrete sidewalks. Better safe than sorry.
CTA buses travel around The Loop and into the surrounding area for a nominal fee. Check the official CTA website for information about schedules and routes.
The City of Chicago Free Trolley operates from Memorial Day to Labor Day. The Trolley, which has different routes identified by color, stops at the major Chicago attractions and is an excellent way to get around in Chicago. Some of the attractions that the free trolley stops at are Navy Pier, Union Station, Water Tower Place, Magnificent Mile, Grant Park and Millennium Park. People are able to get on and off an unlimited number of times. There is no charge.
Taxis are plentiful and usually are easy to get in the city. Taxi cabs fares depend upon the distance traveled and amount of time spent in traffic. Generally, a taxi ride within The Loop is $5 to $10. Ask the taxi driver for an estimate if price is a concern. Taxi companies are charging a surcharge right now to adjust for high gas prices. Taxi cabs are usually happy to travel out of the city limits to O’Hare Airport or the suburban area, but you should definitely get a a price quote before getting into the cab. The driver may not be able to give an exact estimate, but they should be able to give an estimate based upon mileage.
Water Taxis offer an alternative during the warm weather months that is fun and efficient. The water taxis are boats that travel from Navy Pier along the Chicago River to Union Station, or along the lake front to the museums on Lake Michigan. I took a water taxi from Navy Pier to Union Station and the fee was $6. Tickets can be purchased at Navy Pier or at the boat stops.
There are a number for ways to get around in The Windy City. Taking public transportation in the City of Chicago saves the stress of driving and gas expense. Relax and let someone else take care of the driving.
Information is subject to change.
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