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O'Hare Airport
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The O'Hare Airport CTA station is the underground terminus of the Blue Line and located in the middle of the main and original terminal terminal area. The station opened on Labor Day, September 3, 1984 and made Chicago the third U.S. City (after Cleveland whose Hopkins Airport station on the Rapid opened in 1968 and the metro to Washington-National in 1977) to have a rail rapid transit connection directly to a major airport. Chicago's other Airport Midway received an extension to it on the Orange Line 9 years later in 1993. In terms of ease of getting from the train to the Terminal, O'Hare is slightly easier with plenty of moving walkways although the actual walking distances might be similar (unless your on an international flight at the new Terminal 5 which requires transferring to the Airport Transit System) but travel times are faster to Midway at half an hour compared to 45 minutes from O'Hare to reach the Loop. Since the transit extension to O'Hare Airport opened Chicago has been trying to figure out a way to reduce travel times on the Blue Line to the loop by trying to run special Airport Expresses (Blue Line trains make 15 stops between the Airport and Clark/Lake) with proposals such as constructing passing sidings for Express trains to pass local trains. Starting on January 14, 2013 Chicago joined the racks of many other cities (including Vancouver, New York, San Francisco) charging a premium on all rides originating at O'Hare Airport with $5 deducted from pay-per-ride users instead of the normal $2.25 fare. Except from this fee are all 1-day, 3-day, 7-day, and 30-day pas holders plus anyone who has swiped into the transit system at another station within two hours and are just charged a 25¢ transfer fee. No extra fares are charged to exit trains at O'Hare. With the new Ventra Cards the single-use ticket is $5 at O'Hare ($3.00 elseware) so no single-use ticket fees here and $5 is still deducted from all pay-per-ride Ventra Card Holders

The 'L' station is located beneath the main parking garage in the middle of the central terminal area that the original three terminals 1 (rebuilt in the 1980s), 2, and 3 form a semicircle around the train station. These terminals are connected by walkways both airside and landslide along the airport roadway. The station has three tracks with two island platforms allowing trains on the central platform to open their doors on both sides. The station has a tall vaulted ceiling that lacks any interior support columns and has neat wavy looking glass along the track walls. Unique blue signs that say O'Hare and then the Airport Symbol hang from the rafters of this ceiling. No geographic coordinates are given for the station because it has no access to the street grid (I believe there is no legal way to walk out of O'Hare Airport). Trains relay before entering the station because at the western end of the platforms beyond the bumper blocks they form one wide platform. From here there are two escalators with stairs and an elevator that lead up to an intermediate level (the ceiling stays the same height) before arriving at the wide fare control area, there are many extra wide turnstiles and entering and leaving passengers are separated by signs and the turnstiles displaying yes or no entry. There are plenty of all three types of CTA FVMs (regular cash ones, credit, and pass vending machines) and staff to help out of town travelers.

The station is directly beneath the central Bus/Shuttle Center, the pick-up facility for Regional Buses, which is on the Ground Level of the Parking garage (and was formerly International Terminal 4 that served all international flights from 1983-1993 busing passengers to and from their aircraft). To reach terminals 1, 2, or 3 from the 'L' station there are two underground moving walkway corridors beneath the parking garage, airport hotel, and inter-airport roadways to each of the three different terminals. The walkway to Terminal 2 is the shortest and passengers needing the ATS or Terminal 5 are signed to go this way from the rail station.

O'Hare opened a new terminal, International Terminal 5, since the train station opened in 1993. This terminal is a mile away and totally separate from the main terminal area. To drive to it cars must use the Kennedy Expressway (here I-290) which ends at the Airport. Although CTA trains pass relatively close to this terminal, with just lanes of the Kennedy Expressway (trains have already emerged from their tunnel and entered its median) and the terminal's parking lot in the way, there are no plans to build it its own CTA Station. The Airport Transit System (ATS) instead (which opened at the same time as the new terminal) does the job. This is a VAL Rubber Tired People Mover system that runs first around the central terminal area with stops for 1, 2, 3 before running out to Terminal 5 parallel to and clearly visible from the CTA tracks with just half of the Kennedy Expressway in between and then curving north over the CTA Tracks to its final Remote Parking/Kiss'n'Fly Station. This remote parking station includes another attempt at faster train service. Here passengers can connect to a shuttle bus (specifically the one that serves parking lot F and must make all the stops in that parking lot) to the Metra O'Hare Transfer Station which opened in 1996 on Metra's North Central Service. This train through makes just ten weekday round-trips taking about 30 minutes to and from Union Station. The Remote Parking/Kiss'n'Fly Station is also where two PACE buses that serve the airport (one runs all the way to Skokie, connecting with the Swift and then Evanston) terminate and don't pull into the terminal area.
Photos 1-8 taken on 17 July, 2009, 9-17: 2 November, 2013; 18-19: 15 April, 2018

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Getting off a terminating Blue Line train
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A train terminates on the middle track, its doors open on both sides
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O'Hare has unique blue station signs, the station isn't near any streets so no coordinants
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Welcome to O'Hare Airport sign beyond the bumper block at the end of the middle track
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Looking back at trains terminating in the 3 track station
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A colorful bench, the world theme
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The turnstiles are extra wide
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Various farecard machines and the turnstiles beyond
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The back of a train terminating on the middle track
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The display that should list Trains to city is black, extra space beneath Forest Park used to say 54/Cermak
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Arriving and leaving passengers are kept seperate one set of turnstiles is for entering passengers, the other for exiting
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The lettering above the entrance to the O'Hare station
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The doors to the connection to Terminal 2, the closest terminal and for the APM to Terminal 5
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Approaching the station, and a bank of angled Ventra Machines
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The entrance to the CTA O'Hare Station with a modern next CTA monitor
Home<Chicago CTA<Blue Line<O'Hare

Last Updated: 17 September, 2013
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