The Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) operates the nation's second largest public transportation system and covers the City of Chicago and 35 surrounding suburbs. On an average weekday, approximately 1.6 million rides are taken on the CTA.
The CTA is an independent governmental agency created by state legislation. We began operating on October 1, 1947, after acquiring the properties of the Chicago Rapid Transit Company and the Chicago Surface Lines. On October 1, 1952, CTA became the sole operator of Chicago transit when it purchased the Chicago Motor Coach system.
See Facts at a Glance for more history, facts and statistics about us and our services.
“We deliver quality, affordable transit services that link people, jobs and communities.”
We will accomplish our mission with a diverse workforce that is:
- Courteous - We will create a pleasant environment for ourselves and our customers.
- Innovative - We will seek out and encourage employees who initiate change, improvement, learning and advancement of our goals.
- Motivated - We will meet each task with spirit, enthusiasm and a sense of pride to be second to none.
- Professional - We will provide transit service with the highest standards of quality and safety for our customers and ourselves.
- Reliable - We will be dependable for our customers and fellow employees, and will maintain the highest standards of trust.
- Results-Oriented - We will focus on getting the job done and will derive personal satisfaction from the service we provide.
We will accomplish our mission by:
- Setting clear goals, standards and priorities.
- Communicating openly with customers and employees.
- Helping all of our employees develop to their fullest potential through enhanced training and education.
- Being accountable to fellow employees and customers.
- Supporting employees so that they can serve customers.
- Engaging employees in decisions that affect them and their work and creating a stronger sense of ownership among our employees.
Presently, CTA service is provided by two modes: bus and rail.
In addition to CTA, regional transit services are also provided by our sister agencies, Metra and Pace—both of which connect with CTA bus and rail in numerous locations. You can read more about regional and national services that connect with CTA in our page about Regional Connections.
Most rides on CTA are taken by bus. Our bus system consists of 140 routes. Buses make over 25,000 trips daily, and serve nearly 12,000 bus stops throughout the region.
CTA bus routes serve communities locally, move people across town, and a number of express services are provided. Several routes also provide 24-hour service, known as "Owl Service."
More: Learn how to ride the bus.
Our rail system, known as "The 'L'", consists of train lines spanning the city and neighboring communities. The service provided is described as "heavy rail rapid transit," also referred to as a "subway" or "metro" in many parts of the world.
The 'L' system has eight rapid transit routes and consists of 145 stations over approximately 224.1 miles of track. Parts of the 'L' run above ground, in subway tunnels and tubes, as well as at grade or in expressway medians.
Two routes—the Red and Blue Lines—operate 24 hours, every day.
The nickname 'L' is short for "elevated," a reference to the all-elevated beginnings of the system (even though, as just mentioned, parts of the system today are at or below ground).
Free transfer between all 'L' routes is available at designated locations (see maps or route info for free transfer locations).
More: Learn how to ride the 'L'.
More info about our services
Chicago Transit Board
The governing arm of the CTA is the Chicago Transit Board. The board consists of seven members, with four appointed by the Mayor of Chicago and three appointed by the Governor of Illinois.
Direct correspondence for the Chicago Transit Board or its members to:
Office of the Secretary
567 W. Lake Street
Chicago, IL 60661
More: Chicago Transit Board (meetings and more information)
The CTA generates revenue from farebox collections and also receives supplemental funding for operating expenses from the Regional Transportation Authority (RTA).
The complete Budget documents are available under Finance/Budget.
The Regional Transportation Authority (RTA)
The RTA was established in 1974 to oversee local transportation operators in the six-county Chicago metropolitan area. Illinois state law requires the three RTA service boards - CTA, Metra (the region's commuter rail system), and Pace (the suburban bus system) to recover collectively at least 50 percent of operating costs from farebox and other system revenues. The RTA provides public funding for the agencies' remaining operating expenses.
Regional Transportation Authority
175 West Jackson, Suite 1550
Chicago, IL 60604