Transit Adventures

Doing the Orange Line, Most of the Blue Line and Riding the Metra Electric Branches, my 3 days in Chicago

Well during my time in Chicago I basically finished off the CTA using the 3-Day CTA Pass I bought for only $9 via Groupon. I am now just missing a few stations on the CTA Blue Line branch to O’Hare and the Green Line branch out to Harlem. I might have had time to visit these stops but forgot to write down which of the few stops on the branches I need. Those will have to wait for another time, hopefully this fall if I am able to go and ride the dome car on the Cardinal again. I was also visiting family so I didn’t have quite as long days as I might if I was staying on my own.

My exhausted self from the all nigher decided that the time was right to nap on the slow ride up to Howard on the red line where I definitely dozed off. From there I took the Skokie Swift to visit the new Oakton-Skokie Station. I then caught the first Purple Line Express of the PM Rush Hour back to the loop. I do realize some of the northern red line local stops have been renovated and I will need to return to them someday. I finished the afternoon finally visiting and getting off at every stop on the Orange Line out to Midway including taking the ridiculous walk around the parking garage which has been brightened since I was last there for a flight on now defunct ATA Airways in 2004.

On Friday I really had just a half-day seeing my relatives and did every stop on the Blue Line branch out to Forest Park in the middle of the Eisenhower Expressway. I didn’t end up going to every entrance simply because they all look so similar and the ramps (non-ADA compliant) up to them require such long walks. I then walked up to the Green Line at Oak Park, made a few stops (know I haven’t visited every station on that branch but didn’t know the ones I’m missing) including one at the brand new Morgan Station opened on May 18, 2012.

Saturday was a day to ride Metra and one of those days when my lack of planning meant I had a little less time for riding trains and spent most of the day visiting stations and waiting for them. It started off on a Metra Electric train down from the 47th-Kenwood flag stop where my relatives live. On board the conductor immediately sold me a day pass. I took that train down to South Chicago-93rd Street, enjoying the street-running on the northern portion of the branch. I then walked up to 87th and photographed the train heading north from there before using my still valid Unlimited on the 87 Bus across to the Metra electric main line. I got there and looked at the schedule and realized I had an hour and a half until the next train that was stopping on its way to Blue Island. I ended up going for a decent walk visiting the 87th, 91st, 95th, 103rd and 107th Stations, all small wooden platforms at flag stops. The frustrating part of the day was I somehow manged to miss the northbound Amtrak Saluki. Eventually the Blue Island train came and I enjoyed a ride on a singe track at grade branch to Blue Island Vermont Street arriving just after 2pm.

I got to Blue Island and looked at the timetables. At that point I realized that there wasn’t an inbound train (or outbound to catch on the Rock Island Line to then ride back in) for an hour on both the Metra Electric and Rock Island Branches. I took full advantage of the time to walk to the Burr Oak Station (on the electric) and the Prairie Stop on the Blue Island where I had a neat wait for a late train (that I almost thought I missed at the flag stop) since it was on the edge of a large intermodal yard. It was another slow ride into La Salle Street Station due to all the little stops every 4-5 blocks, north of Gresham the speed picked up as I enjoyed the railfan window of the cab for parts of the ride. I got downtown and it was very clear from the wind a storm was coming. I ended up entering the subway system not really to go anywhere but get some more photos of the red and blue line before deciding to call it day (if my timing had been better I would have ridden another Metra branch) and walking over to Millennium Station for the train back to 47th-Kenwood (if I don’t have a Metra pass on a weekday I just rely on the red or green line to 47th and take the bus across).