Riding the “L” – The Line Breakdown

transportation chicago

The Chicago Transit Authority’s L system (standing for “elevated train”) consists of eight lines identified by their respective colors — not numbers! Below is a list of each of the lines and a basic description of where they run throughout the city.

Red Line – The busiest L line runs North from Howard (in the suburb Evanston) to 95th/Dan Ryan on the city’s south side. The Red line runs on an elevated track, below-ground subway line, and on a surface track along the Dan Ryan expressway. Fun Fact: Did you know you can take the Red Line to both Cubs and Sox games? 35th street station for Sox, Addison for Cubs!

Orange Line – Take this to Midway airport. It runs from the Loop to Midway International Airport.

Yellow Line – Yellow = Skokie or suburbs. It runs as an extension of the Red or Purple line, express to Dempster Street Station in the northern suburb of Skokie.

Green Line – The Green Line runs from Harlem/Lake near Oak Park to Cottage Grove on Chicago’s South Side.

Blue Line – The Blue Line (the system’s second busiest) runs from O’Hare International Airport through the Loop and then through western Chicago ending at Des Plaines Avenue. The Blue Line operates 24/7.

Purple Line – The Purple Line is basically the same as the brown line, unless you are heading to the suburbs. The line extends to serve northern suburbs Evanston and Wilmette with express service to the loop during rush hour. Think of Northwestern Universities colors if you ever forget where the purple line goes. Go Wildcats!

Brown Line – The Brown line runs on the same track as the purple line and begins at Kimball Avenue in Albany Park (northwest side) and goes through the loop.

Pink Line – The pink line is the newest line added to the L system, though it was really just a rerouting of the Blue Line. It goes from Cicero (54th/Cermak) to the Loop. Fun Fact alert #2! How did the CTA pick the color for this new line in 2006? The CTA asked for responses from Chicago school children to choose between silver, gold, and pink. The Kindergarten to 8th graders voted pink, and had some pretty darn good reasons why.

And there you have it. You should now be able to confidently ride the L… or at least get on the right line! For more information on Chicago’s L system, click here.

Tessa McLean

About Tessa McLean

There is just something about that feeling when you have been away — maybe for a weekend, a month, 6 months — and you’re driving into Chicago and that first glimpse of the city skyline appears. It just always makes me smile.

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