10 Ways To Get Around Chicago
As a DePaul student who was raised in rural Iowa, public transit options were not something I was used to when I moved to Chicago. After living in Chicago for two years, I have learned the pros and cons of the most common ways DePaul students get around.
1. CTA Trains
Among DePaul students, commuting on the CTA (Chicago Transit Authority) trains is the most common option. The trains traverse the entirety of Chicago from O’Hare to 95th to Skokie. Also, both the Red and Brown lines have direct stops on each of DePaul’s two campuses.
The University issues CTA passes to all full time DePaul students that allows unlimited access to CTA trains and busses while classes are in session. Students are free to use their CTA pass for non-academic uses as well making the trains a very cheap and consistent option for students.
For incoming Freshman, you will be taught how to use the CTA train and bus system during the Chicago quarter class.
The CTA buses are also included in the CTA pass that the University issues students. The city uses buses to provide transit where the trains do not go. They are also used to get people transferred between train lines.
Last year I lived off campus, a half mile from the nearest train stop. When I needed to get to the loop campus for class, the buses were usually the fastest option. Between trains and buses, my advice is to check Google maps to determine the fastest route.
While most students choose not to bring a car with them to campus, the option does exist. To bring a car to campus, students will have to pay a fee for parking in one of the parking structures.
Having a vehicle means having the freedom to bring your own space with you anywhere in the city. It is a nice luxury to have but it comes with drawbacks. Students with cars also must consider gas, maintenance cost, parking, etc.
I would recommend a car for students who plan on using it to travel outside Chicago. Driving exclusively in Chicago is (for most students at least) more hassle and cost than it is worth.
Rideshare services like Lyft and Uber are a great way to get the benefits of driving while avoiding the hassle of vehicle ownership. Taking an Uber between the Loop and Lincoln Park campuses will typically cost about $15-$20 + tip. Taking ride shares regularly can get expensive so it’s good to get comfortable with the trains first.
Chicago taxi services are great for getting around in the loop. They are easy to wave down and can get you around common spots in Chicago very quickly.
The Metra trains in Chicago offer very cheap travel out to the suburbs. It is the best way to get to places like Six Flags or the Brookfield Zoo. Also, riders get the option to sit up top on a double decker train. The experience of riding on a Metra train is worth the cost alone.
Chicago is a very walkable city. Between each neighborhood, everything you will need to live should be within walking distance. I often choose to walk even when other options are faster just to take in the city and slow down a bit.
It is even possible to walk between the Lincoln Park and Loop campuses. Walking straight east from the Lincoln park campus will take you to the beach where you can walk south along lakefront trail until you get to the loop. The walking distance between the two is just under 6 miles but the scenery along the way is so breathtaking that it will make the time fly.
Biking around is a great option in Chicago. There are lots of bike only paths and bike lanes in roads to make getting around much quicker. If you don’t have a bike, the city offers rentable Divvy bikes for reasonable prices. That can be taken from one Divvy location and returned to another in a different part of the city.
For those who do have their own bike, BE CAREFUL! Bike theft is a real and very common thing. Be sure to always lock your bike up correctly and with a good bike lock.
While flying isn’t necessarily a way to get around Chicago, it is a great way to get in or out of it. Chicago boasts two airports, O’Hare and Midway. O’Hare is one of the largest airports in the world so between the two, you are bound to find a flight that fits your needs.
The final entry to this list is DePaul Public Safety. Students anywhere on campus can call DePaul Public Safety for a free, no-questions-asked ride to anywhere else on campus. This option is mostly used by students living on campus during the winter to avoid walking in the cold.
– Jacob Siepker