How to Take CTA Public Transportation From Chicago O'Hare Airport

Planning Your Route


Visit Chicago Transit Authority and City of Chicago websites to pull up maps and overlays of the train system before arriving at O'Hare. Locate O'Hare as the beginning of the CTA Blue Line on Chicago's Northwest Side.


Find your hotel in relation to the CTA system of trains. Most Chicago hotels are located within the Downtown Loop or the River North neighborhood. From O'Hare, the Blue Line makes a direct connection to the loop and the Red Line at Jackson. Red Line trains heading north stop at Grand, Chicago Avenue or Clark-Division for River North. Loop and River North hotels are within walking distance of CTA trains.


Match CTA train routes with landmarks and neighborhoods if you plan on taking public transportation to meet an acquaintance. For example, the Red Line is the main north-south CTA train route through Chicago and stays within five miles of Lake Michigan. Points of interest off the Red Line include Wrigley Field, U.S. Cellular Field, Michigan Avenue and the popular Lincoln Park neighborhood.


Identify important transfer points onto other CTA train routes from the Blue Line. All CTA lines meet within the loop. Again, you may transfer onto the Red Line at Jackson for River North hotels. If necessary, you may access other CTA train lines from the Clark-Lake platform.


Board your plane for O'Hare with $1 bills and quarters. As of Fall 2010, a CTA one-way fare card costs $2.25. Bring the exact amount because CTA fare card machines are cash-only and do not make change.

Taking CTA


Arrive at O'Hare and follow signs for baggage claim and public transportation. After picking up your bags, you will walk to the O'Hare CTA station and purchase a fare card. Use the fare card to enter the CTA system and board your Blue Line train for the loop. Prior to downtown, you may also notice clusters of hotels off the Rosemont and Cumberland stops.


Transfer onto another CTA train line in the loop at Jackson or Clark-Lake, if applicable. Read overhead signs to get a sense of direction before boarding another train at the transfer point. Each train will display a banner of its last stop. For example, Red Line trains heading north for River North say Howard.


Exit the CTA public transportation system at your final destination.

Tips and Warnings

  • The CTA Blue Line provides 24-hour service into and out of O'Hare International Airport.
  • As an air traveler, O'Hare International Airport is the primary gateway into Chicago. From there, you may choose among several forms of ground transportation, including rental cars and taxi services; however, rentals and taxicab rides may add hundreds of dollars to your trip. For relief, the Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) extends its public transportation network of trains and buses to O'Hare Airport. To save time, you should arrive to O'Hare prepared with your mapped route and enough money to buy a fare card.