Chicago’s CTA “L” Passenger Trains – Large Photography Series

I love visiting Chicago just to see the Chicago Transit Authority’s “L” passenger trains. There is so much history in that transit system which you can actually touch and ride in. All of the different cultures of Chicago come together at the CTA “L” passenger stations to wait for the next train, which normally shows up within minutes. Taking the Red Line down underground is like an amusement part ride as it quickly picks up speed and drops below the surface of the city. The light from outside fades quickly as dim fluorescent lights cast a greenish glow outside the cars and in. As the cars violently shake back and forth the smell of arcing electricity and hot brakes start to fill the cars as they come to a quick stop at the next station. People rush on and off the cars and get back to their lives as I just sit back and take it all in. Before you know it we’re on the move again as the train quickly accelerate out of the underground subway station back into a dark tube. At the next station I will get off and board the next train heading back towards the loop downtown. Once back in the loop above ground, the cars gently click and rock as the towering buildings jut straight up over me. Once you are off at an elevated station, you feel as if you are greatly separated from the noise and hustle of the city streets below as buses and taxis speed beneath you. The people and how they are dressed at the stations and on the trains change like the seasons, as the hours go by from morning to night. It is an experience I have enjoyed many times and hopefully many more. I hope you enjoy my images of Chicago’s CTA “L”.

Wiki History of the “L”

Chicago Transit Authority, also known as CTA or Transit Chicago, is the operator of mass transit within the City of Chicago, Illinois and some of its surrounding suburbs.
The CTA is a municipal corporation that started operations on October 1, 1947 upon the purchase and combination of the transportation assets of the Chicago Rapid Transit Company and the Chicago Surface Lines streetcar system. In 1952, CTA purchased the assets of the Chicago Motor Coach Company, which was under the control of Yellow Cab founder John D. Hertz, resulting in a fully unified system. Today, the CTA is one of the three service boards financially supported by the Regional Transportation Authority.

The Chicago Transit Authority provides service to Chicago and 40 surrounding suburbs. The CTA provided a total of 620.5 million rides in 2011, a 3 percent increase over 2010 with ridership rising to levels not seen for 20 years. CTA operates 24 hours each day and on an average weekday provides 1.7 million rides on buses and trains. It has approximately 1,800 buses that operate over 140 routes traveling along 2,230 route miles (3,658 km). Buses provide about one million passenger trips a day and serve more than 12,000 posted bus stops. The Chicago Transit Authority’s 1,190 train cars operate over eight routes and 222 miles (357 km) of track. Its trains provide about 750,000 customer trips each weekday and serve 144 stations in Chicago.

Wiki History

The Metra Electric District is an electrified commuter rail line owned and operated by Metra which connects Millennium Station (formerly Randolph Street Station) in downtown Chicago, with the city’s southern suburbs. While Metra does not explicitly refer to any of its lines by color, the timetable accents for the Metra Electric District are printed in bright “Panama orange” to reflect the line’s origins with the Illinois Central Railroad (IC) and its Panama Limited passenger train.
It is the only Metra line powered by overhead catenary, and the only one with three branches. Trains operate on 1500 volts direct current, and all stations have high-level platforms. Its main line north of Kensington is shared by NICTD’s South Shore Line, an electric interurban line through northern Indiana to South Bend.


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  • Harvey Kahler - January 3, 2013 - 1:47 am

    Many excellent photos – thanks for sharing.ReplyCancel

  • Michael Bess - January 3, 2013 - 4:56 am

    Thanks for sharing Travis, really enjoy your photos. Was in Chicago 2 times and enjoyed the time spent.ReplyCancel

  • Temp Namechange - January 3, 2013 - 5:27 am

    All I can say is WOW!ReplyCancel

  • Michael Payne - January 3, 2013 - 1:28 pm

    You are a very good Photographer, and I especially liked the Metra Electric District images.

    Please check out my CTA Gray Line Project:

  • Sharon Wylee Scheel - January 3, 2013 - 1:37 pm

    Yep, looks like Obama. The costumes were fun, I love a good costume. Went a little dizzy looking up at buildings. Personal fav: Ashland 63.ReplyCancel

  • Cindy Dewitz - January 4, 2013 - 7:13 pm

    Enjoyed these photos!ReplyCancel

  • Cindy Dewitz - January 4, 2013 - 7:14 pm

    Enjoyed these photos.ReplyCancel

  • Chris Smith - January 4, 2013 - 10:48 pm

    Lots of great photos in here. I found it difficult to look through all of them and enjoy them in this format, but you got some good stuff for sure. Great idea for a project!ReplyCancel

  • Travis Dewitz - January 5, 2013 - 1:29 am

    Thank you Chris.ReplyCancel

  • […] Chicago’s CTA “L” Passenger Trains – Large Photography Series 14 Comments […]ReplyCancel

  • Travis Dewitz - January 3, 2013 - 2:06 am

    Thank you Harvey.

  • Travis Dewitz - January 3, 2013 - 3:01 pm

    Thank you very much.ReplyCancel

  • Travis Dewitz - January 3, 2013 - 3:13 pm

    Thank you Sharon. Some crazy stuff to see there on Halloween. Is it the one with Ashland 63 on the train. The girl looks to be deeply connected to her phone and as you look through the image you notice the train operator splashed with light on his face is just as interested.ReplyCancel

  • Sharon Wylee Scheel - January 3, 2013 - 4:16 pm

    Yes, that is the photo. It’s interesting on a cultural level, and also the multiple focuses–the photographer looking at the man looking at the girl looking at the cell phone.ReplyCancel

  • Travis Dewitz - January 3, 2013 - 4:54 pm

    Thank you and I will.ReplyCancel

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