Midway Airport is the southern terminus of the Orange Line and opened on October 31, 1993. The stop meant that Chicago now had direct 'L' rail rapid transit access to both of its Airports. The station is located relatively far away from the actual airport to allow for possible extensions farther south to Ford City, currently in the EIS process. This is prematurely already included as a destination on the automatic road signs. It also allows the station to have a large bus loop for local connecting passengers in Southwest Chicago and the surrounding suburbs to be separated from the airport's ground transportation. Although the station is less than twenty years old modifications have occurred since its opening due to a parking garage being built in the middle of the original skywalk to the terminal opening in 1999. This means most of the walk from the airline terminal to the station is now through the parking garage. The first time I used the station to connect to a flight to New York on now-defunct ATA Airlines (Midway was their main hub) in October 2004, the walk through the garage was along pavement painted like a crosswalk complete with orange lines painted every ten feet showing us the way. There were semi-translucent walls along the path. Lanes of traffic even had to be crossed. A complete history can be found on Chicago 'L'.org.
Today the walk has been improved a bit. All airline passengers must cross the skybridge over Cicero Avenue to enter and leave the airport to the arrival and departures hall across this street from actual square mile that the airport concourses and runways are located on. Here passengers follow signs for "Trains to City-CTA" using escalators, stairs or elevators and go up to the second level of the parking garage, without really realizing it. There is first a wide landing, this is followed by a quite long corridor through the middle of the parking garage. The corridor looks much more pleasant and permanent now with a marble floor and artwork along the walls. No lanes of traffic needs to be crossed. This leads quite a ways to the opposite side of the parking garage, above Kilpatrick Avenue. There is another corner to turn. Here is a neat mural of a CTA train for those approaching the el and one of more abstract designs for those going to the airport. The walkway continues along the opposite side of the garage, suspended above Kilpatrick Avenue. Windows are on both side of walkway, one set offers views into the garage, and the other side offers views into the Orange Line Yard opposite the station. Eventually, at the SE corner of the garage, passengers cross through double doors to enter a more climate controlled area and enter what is more of a skywalk. This leads over Kilpatrick Avenue and along the northern side of the stations large bus loop. Here is the only section with relatively short moving walkways and the skywalk ends with stairs, an up escalator and an elevator down to street level with doors out to the station's main bus loop and entrance at an angle to the main doors into the train station. The biggest inconvenience as a departing airline passengers is the lack of any Flight Information Displays in the CTA station or along the skywalk to the airline terminal. The nearest flight information displays are found only once departing passengers reach the main terminal.
Trains terminate on one of 3 tracks that are located in a trench, just west of two mainline railroad tracks that cross 59th Street at a grade just south of the bumper blocks right at the southern end of the platforms. The platforms have a side-track-track-island-track configuration with the side platform rarely used and only by discharging trains going to the Orange Line's yard just north of the station. The entire platform area, including the 3 tracks, are covered by a canopy held up by round columns holding up orange cross-beams. The area between the center 2 tracks has a glass skylight. The canopy extends up to a double height with glass windows just before the two combined staircase/escalators that leads up from each platform to each side of the central overpass. The ones from the side platform are signed Exit Only. There is an elevator from each platform in the middle of the overpass. The leads to a wide bank of turnstiles, a few are extra wide (all at O'Hare Airport are) for airport travelers with luggage. There are then a large number of Vending Machines, including one that sells passes, a Duckin' Donuts and then doors out of the station.
The doors out of the station lead to the entrance to already described walkway system to the airport and an extremely large bus loop. This bus loop curves from Kilpatrick Avenue to 59th Street. It serves 10 CTA Bus Lines and 5 Suburban Pace Routes. Buses stop at either one of six canopied over central bus bays or at stops along the covered eastern side of the bus loop. There is also a covered walkway over to Kilpatrick Avenue between the bus loop and separate Kiss 'n' ride for 'L' passengers.
Photos 1-11 taken on 24 October, 2004, 12-43 on 2 August, 2012