Accessibility of Fixed Route Service and Commuter Rail
CTA and Pace Fixed Route Buses
Our CTA and Pace bus fleets are 100% accessible. Special equipment such as lifts, ramps, wheelchair securement areas, priority seating and visual display announcements have been installed on all CTA and Pace buses to make fixed route bus service accessible to people with disabilities. The Americans with Disabilities Act requires bus drivers to call out stops and to have large print and Braille signage in fixed route buses. All our buses have automated systems that visually display and verbally announce stops. Bus drivers also are able to assist passengers with boarding and exiting the bus, using a lift or ramp, securing wheelchairs and scooters, or helping put fares in the fare box when asked.
CTA “L” Trains
The majority of CTA “L” stations are accessible, and more and more stations are becoming accessible each year. All CTA “L” trains have at least two accessible cars per train. Accessible CTA “L” stations have elevators, audio and visual announcements, TTY, tactile strips on the platform edge, Braille and large print signs, and gap fillers to bridge the gap between the platform and the train.
Before traveling on the CTA “L,” people with disabilities who require station accessibility should first determine which stations are accessible. Customers who require an elevator can call the CTA Elevator Status Line at 1-888-YOUR-CTA (1-888-968-7282) to make sure the elevators are working at the accessible stations that are needed during travel. When calling the CTA Elevator Status Line, wait for the prompts, then press 5 and then 2.
Upon arriving at an accessible station, the customer can ask a Customer Assistant for help if needed. Customer Assistant call buttons are installed at the entrance of each accessible “L” station. Since Customer Assistants are not always on duty, it is a good idea to check the Customer Assistant hours at each station before traveling. If a Customer Assistant is not available, proceed to the platform, wait close to where the first car of the train will be on the platform when it arrives at the station, and wave at the Train Conductor to get his or her attention. The Train Conductor will exit the train to help with boarding. The Customer Assistant or the Train Conductor will deploy a device called a gap filler for customers who use wheelchairs, scooters or wheeled walkers or for any other customer who requests this type of assistance. Gap fillers are portable ramps that act as a bridge between the platform and the train car so that customers can board the train safely. Customer Assistants are also available to guide customers with visual disabilities throughout the train stations.
For more information how on how customers with disabilities can use CTA fixed route service, the CTA has produced an Accessibility video to demonstrate the ease of using CTA buses or "L" trains.
Metra Commuter Rail
The majority of Metra stations are accessible, and work to increase the number of accessible stations is currently underway. Accessible Metra stations have audio and visual announcements, TTY, Braille and large print signs, and tactile strips along the edge of the platform to alert customers to the platform edge. In addition, accessible Metra stations that are not at ground level have elevators or ramps. These features allow customers with disabilities to use Metra to travel safely throughout the RTA region.
All Metra trains are required to have at least one accessible car per train. For all rail cars without steps, a portable ramp is used by railroad personnel to help with boarding. In instances where the rail car has steps, a lift will be deployed. Many stations have signs that show riders where the accessible boarding area is on the platform. At stations where these signs do not exist, rail personnel will direct you to the accessible train car.
Before traveling on Metra, people with disabilities who require station accessibility should first determine which Metra stations are accessible (Text Version of Accessible Stations). Since many accessible Metra stations have elevators, customers who require this feature can call the Metra Elevator Status Line at 1-312-322-6925 to make sure the elevators are working at the accessible stations that are needed during travel.
Under the Americans with Disabilities act of 1990, commuter rail systems are not required to operate complimentary paratransit systems. Accordingly, Metra does not operate such a system. However, Metra does provide what is called P-8 service (short for paragraph 8 of the Jones II Consent Decree).
P-8 is a shuttle service from a qualified origin to the next accessible station. Metra does this at no additional charge to the passenger and does not require certification of disability status. Reservations may be made any time the day before the ride is needed or with as little as three hours notice when necessary. If someone who ordinarily rides from a non-accessible station were to break a leg, for example, he or she could use the service during recuperation without going through a formal certification process.
P-8 connections are guaranteed - that is, if you miss the train because the ride is late, and another train is not available right away, the driver will take you to your destination station. In the unusual event the train is late, the driver will wait until it arrives. More information is provided on the Metra website.
Fixed Route vs. ADA Paratransit
Fixed route service is the regularly scheduled buses and trains operated by CTA and Pace in the northeast Illinois region. ADA Paratransit service is shared-ride, origin-to-destination transportation provided as a complement to CTA and Pace fixed route service for individuals whose disabilities prevent fixed route use. Pace operates ADA Paratransit service for the entire RTA region.
There are many advantages to traveling by fixed route service. Seniors or people with disabilities who use fixed route service can qualify for RTA Reduced Fare , People with Disabilities Ride Free and Seniors Ride Free programs. ADA Paratransit fares are at least the cost of a full fare on a fixed route bus or train. Unlike ADA Paratransit service, travel on fixed route service does not have to be scheduled in advance. ADA Paratransit users must make a reservation the day before a trip. Fixed route customers can travel whenever they wish during transit service hours of operation with no advance notice.
ADA Paratransit services operate the same days and hours as the fixed route services available in the area. It is important to note that ADA Paratransit services are comparable to fixed route and only operate within three-quarters of a mile of CTA or Pace fixed route bus routes or CTA “L” train stations. If an area does not have fixed route service, there will be no ADA Paratransit service in that area.