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JayPea

Midway to Union Station via CTA

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In July I am joining my uncle for the (in)famous Slidell loophole trip. I'm flying (there's that nasty F word :lol: ) from Spokane to Midway, and, as he lives in downstate Illinois between Bloomington and Champaign, I'm taking the Lincoln Service train #305. I've decided to take the CTA train from Midway to Union Station-or at least the vicinity thereof. I have a few questions:

 

1) How easy is it to go from the baggage claim to the Midway CTA station? I have a map of Midway but it is rather sparse in detail.

 

2) In looking into this, I see I take the Orange line from Midway and the nearest CTA station to Union Station is the Quincy Street station. Are there stairs or an escalator here? I travel light; a medium suitcase, backpack, and small camera bag, so steps won't be a problem, but I just want to know what to expect.

 

3) From a map of the CTA system I have, it looks like it's just a three block walk between Quincy Street and Union Station, with Union Station being west of Quincy and across the river. And in case my occasional dyslexia acts up :lol: the Sears Tower is between the two. Even I couldn't miss that!! It looks simple enough but I want to make sure. Keep in mind I'm a bumpkin who grew up in a town of 500 and live in a town of 2900 and about the only mass transit, especially in town #1 is the school buses. :lol: Is it as easy as it looks?

 

4) About how long can I expect for the journey between the two to take? My flight arrives about 2:50 and the 305 leaves at 5:15. And in case my flight is delayed, I know another Chicago-Bloomington train leaves at 7PM or another option if need be would be the City of New Orleans to Champaign which leaves at 8. I have other options, so it's not as if I'm stuck should my flight be delayed. But, again, I just want to be sure.

 

We're taking the CONO from Champaign to New Orleans so we'll get a bonus overnighter before the 6 day 5 night Loophole trip. I'm looking forward to it!

Edited by JayPea

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Just what IS the Sidell loophole? I've seen it mentioned but never explained.

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1) How easy is it to go from the baggage claim to the Midway CTA station? I have a map of Midway but it is rather sparse in detail.

 

I've never done it but I don't think it's all that hard. Might be a bit of walk, but nothing terrible.

 

2) In looking into this, I see I take the Orange line from Midway and the nearest CTA station to Union Station is the Quincy Street station. Are there stairs or an escalator here? I travel light; a medium suitcase, backpack, and small camera bag, so steps won't be a problem, but I just want to know what to expect.

 

No escalators or elevators at Quincy/Wells. You'll have to carry things down the stairs.

 

3) From a map of the CTA system I have, it looks like it's just a three block walk between Quincy Street and Union Station, with Union Station being west of Quincy and across the river. And in case my occasional dyslexia acts up :lol: the Sears Tower is between the two. Even I couldn't miss that!! It looks simple enough but I want to make sure. Keep in mind I'm a bumpkin who grew up in a town of 500 and live in a town of 2900 and about the only mass transit, especially in town #1 is the school buses. :lol: Is it as easy as it looks?

 

It's not hard at all. It's a very simple walk and you can't miss the station as it is immediately after you cross the bridge.

 

4) About how long can I expect for the journey between the two to take? My flight arrives about 2:50 and the 305 leaves at 5:15. And in case my flight is delayed, I know another Chicago-Bloomington train leaves at 7PM or another option if need be would be the City of New Orleans to Champaign which leaves at 8. I have other options, so it's not as if I'm stuck should my flight be delayed. But, again, I just want to be sure.

 

I'm thinking that with walking at both ends and whatnot, you'll need about 45 minutes to a hour to complete the trip. Members from Chicago may know better than I on that one.

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Orange Line from Midway to Quincy should take 25 minutes actual running time. The train goes clockwise around the Loop so Quincy will be one of the first few downtown stops (which means, for future reference, that it's about 32 minutes from Quincy back out to the airport). Headways between trains at the time of day you're arriving are seven to ten minutes. Southwest baggage reclaim at Midway can be a bit slow -- I've waited as much as a half hour -- so bear that in mind. Midway station is some distance from the terminal due to bad planning, but at least the walk is indoors. Quincy station itself is probably the least renovated, but most restored, station in the system; it's the one they use for movie shoots, so it basically has its 1920s appearance, varnished woodwork, copperplate typefaces and all (i.e. bring your camera). But that does mean a lot of stairs to negotiate. At least you get to go down stairs, not up. Overall, I'd expect your plane could be as much as an hour late and you'd still make your Amtrak connection. With an on time arrival at Midway (with the resulting quicker baggage handling as well) you'll have plenty of time at Union Station because you'll get there well before 4pm. By the way, when you get to Quincy, go out the station to the north (the way the train is heading), and walk west over to Union Station along the left side of Adams Street and use the entrance on your left almost immediately after crossing the Chicago River (i.e. before you get to the main station building). By doing this, you'll go straight down an escalator to the check-in/ticketing area and save yourself some more stairs. But be sure once you're in the station to walk through the tunnel into the Great Hall and take a quick look around, it's very impressive indeed.

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If you have wheeled luggage, I wouldn't get off the Orange Line at Quincy. Washington/Wells is the next stop after Quincy/Wells, but it's a modern station with elevators. In my experience, rolling luggage the extra two "blocks" (downtown blocks are half the size of the 8-to-a-mile blocks outside downtown) is better than clambering luggage down the long and relatively steep and narrow staircases at Quincy. There are curb cuts (for wheelchairs, etc.) at every intersection downtown.

 

By the time you get to Union Station, the riverside entrance mentioned by photoeditor will starting to be busy with impatient home-bound commuters. If you continue a short distance along Adams Street to the first intersection (Canal Street) and head left/south, without crossing Canal, so that the old station building is on the other side of the street, there's an entrance mid-block with elevators that will take you directly to ticketing/baggage.

 

I second photoeditor's suggestion to see the Great Hall. It's not far off the beaten path, a little west of the ticketing area, and worth seeing even if you have only a minute or two to spare.

Edited by John Bredin

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A few years back, I attended a conference in San Francisco so I flew to Chicago took the Orange to Quincy and walked to Union Station to take the CZ and connecting bus to SF. I had shipped my larger luggage to the hotel in SF so was traveling fairly light with a brief case and a smaller duffle for the train. Everything went very smoothly probably an hour at the most from the time I walked off the plane at Midway til I arrived at the Metro Lounge at Union Station. Chicago is not as transit friendly as some of the eastern cities but you can still make it work.

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Thanks, everyone, for your helpful replies. I've been to Union Station before, and in fact was just there a couple of months ago, but it's been years since I've gone anywhere to and from Union Station other than by way of Amtrak. While visiting in Illinois, I've gone to several Cubs games, and in fact have taken the CTA to get there, but it has been so many years since I did that I just don't remember the details. I do have a wheeled suitcase but it's rather large; for ease of travel I'll stick to my circa 1978 suitcase. I do hope to be able to arrive in time to get a glimpse around the Great Hall; I've enjoyed doing so on every trip through Union Station.

 

Just what IS the Sidell loophole? I've seen it mentioned but never explained.

 

The Slidell loophole is a trip in which, for a 2-zone Amtrak Guest Rewards award trip, you go from Slidell, LA (first stop on the Crescent east of New Orleans) to Los Angeles the l-o-o-o-o-ng way: Slidell to Washington DC by way of the Crescent; Washington DC to Chicago by way of the Capitol Limited; Chicago to Portland by way of the Empire Builder, and Portland to Los Angeles by way of the Coast Starlight. That adds up to six days and five nights on the various trains. I booked the trip just under the wire; this routing is no longer an option, apparently. Now the only routing option for this trip is Slidell to Chicago as before, but from Chicago to Los Angeles, the only option that appears to come up is the Southwest Chief. At least that's the only option I see on Amtrak's website. I hope that explains it and it's not clear as mud to you now! :lol:

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The Slidell loophole is a trip in which, for a 2-zone Amtrak Guest Rewards award trip, you go from Slidell, LA (first stop on the Crescent east of New Orleans) to Los Angeles the l-o-o-o-o-ng way: Slidell to Washington DC by way of the Crescent; Washington DC to Chicago by way of the Capitol Limited; Chicago to Portland by way of the Empire Builder, and Portland to Los Angeles by way of the Coast Starlight. That adds up to six days and five nights on the various trains. I booked the trip just under the wire; this routing is no longer an option, apparently. Now the only routing option for this trip is Slidell to Chicago as before, but from Chicago to Los Angeles, the only option that appears to come up is the Southwest Chief. At least that's the only option I see on Amtrak's website. I hope that explains it and it's not clear as mud to you now! :lol:

I reported a different result in a recent thread (rant?) entitled "Yet another guaranteed connection question". See question 2 shown below. Of course Slidell - LA isn't the same thing as CHI-SLO. But why not? If A-B-C and B-C-D are good, why not A-B-C-D?

 

But will AGR do that (allow me to go to New York City to change)? I was under the impression that it wouldn't because the itinerary didn't show up in the regular schedule.

Hardly a day goes by that someone doesn't make a statement like that. Every time someone does I ask myself two questions:

 

1. What is your source (other AU posts do not count)? I can't find anything in the AGR T&C that states what constitutes a valid reward itinerary.

 

2. How can that be? For certain itineraries I have been looking at, the results from Amtrak.com's reservation page seem to be random. For example, I want to go CHI-SLO (San Luis Obispo) via PDX.

 

For Jan 16, I can do it. The saved reservation is shown here.

 

For Jan 15, no can do. The results are shown here.

 

However, if I try the "multi-city" option, I can do it. The saved reservation is shown here.

 

The obvious questions:

 

1. Is CHI-PDX-SLO valid on Jan 16, but not 15.

 

2. Or does a multi-city trip count as valid for the 15th as well?

 

3. What gives with the reservation system?

 

I've notices this phenomenon on other itineraries; but I was able to capture "proof" for this one.

 

I've asked both questions before; but no one seems to want to take up the challenge.

In response to my post, AlanB indicated he did get a CHI-PDX-SLO connection for Jan 15. As I indicated above, the results may vary.

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If you're connecting from Midway to an Amtrak to Bloomington, there's another option if you're running late at Midway. Amtrak trains on the Chicago-St. Louis line stop at Summit about twenty minutes after leaving Chicago Union Station. Summit is just a few miles west of Midway Airport, and a short cab ride.

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When we went to CHI last year, we opted to stay at the COmfort Inn at Midway. It's about half an hour trip, give or take. We spent a few days, so we were never in a hurry. THe station at Quincy has no escalator.

 

We did find that while Chicago has a fantastic transit system, the directions and locations of the stops and stations are vague. ANd don't ask anyone from Chicago where to catch a specific L train. We were misguided and heard .... hmmmm, I'm not sure, maybe that way. Guess if it's not the line they take every day, they don't have a clue !!!!

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If you're connecting from Midway to an Amtrak to Bloomington, there's another option if you're running late at Midway. Amtrak trains on the Chicago-St. Louis line stop at Summit about twenty minutes after leaving Chicago Union Station. Summit is just a few miles west of Midway Airport, and a short cab ride.

 

 

I didn't realize that. I will definitely keep that in mind. Thanks! In fact, that might be a better option anyway. If I can't afford the cost of a cab vs. the cost of a CTA pass then I have no business going anyway! :lol:

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In a few weeks, I will be arriving Chicago on Amtrak and transferring to the Brown Line to get to my hotel in Lincoln Park. I have used Quincy station multiple times and feel comfortable carrying my luggage up the stairs, but I forgot how the turnstiles are set up. I have one very large bag, so is there an extra wide turnstile or gate that can be opened?

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In a few weeks, I will be arriving Chicago on Amtrak and transferring to the Brown Line to get to my hotel in Lincoln Park. I have used Quincy station multiple times and feel comfortable carrying my luggage up the stairs, but I forgot how the turnstiles are set up. I have one very large bag, so is there an extra wide turnstile or gate that can be opened?

 

Quincy hasn't been converted to "handicap accessible" yet.

 

You're better off using Washington/Wells, which has the larger gate for those in wheelchairs.

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How large is "very large"? Most luggage can be carried through a regular turnstile without too much effort.

Edited by Trogdor

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Quincy is probobly my favorite station. They are giving it a cool, retro-vintage restoration. Elevators are being installed, but much of it was boarded up when I was there last month, so hard to judge how far along they are.

 

Not much room for large bags:

800px-CTA_Quincy_station.jpg

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Quincy is probobly my favorite station.

Mine too. I love the vintage posters. They really add to the overall feel.

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While killing time between trains yesterday in Chicago, I took a joy ride on the CTA, starting, of course, at Quincy/Wells station. It took a couple of moments for this 70 year old to figure out there new Ventra fare card system, but the very friendly station clerk/agent had me all squared away in a minute. As far as large luggage, or baby strollers, etc, goes, I'm sure they've dealt with it before. If it cant be slipped under the turnstile, the agent should be able to unlock the gate at the side of the turnstiles and let you through. I'm sure that's how they handle bicycles and the like.

 

As it turns out, a trip out and back to Midway was part of my joy ride. As I needed to find a restroom at Midway, I discovered it was a lengthy, much convoluted,7-8 minute walk from the L station to the terminal. If your luggage doesn't have wheels, you'll need the strength of a body builder to carry it that distance.

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As far as large luggage, or baby strollers, etc, goes, I'm sure they've dealt with it before. If it cant be slipped under the turnstile, the agent should be able to unlock the gate at the side of the turnstiles and let you through. I'm sure that's how they handle bicycles and the like. As it turns out, a trip out and back to Midway was part of my joy ride. As I needed to find a restroom at Midway, I discovered it was a lengthy, much convoluted,7-8 minute walk from the L station to the terminal. If your luggage doesn't have wheels, you'll need the strength of a body builder to carry it that distance.

 

Are you talking about the gate to the right of the turnstiles? It honestly doesn't look that much larger than the turnstiles themselves. It might be large enough for full size luggage turned sideways but I'm struggling to visualize a standard sized in-use wheelchair passing through that opening. The walk between the terminals at Midway and the Orange Line is so long and laborious that I cannot help but think one or more taxi/shuttle/limo/parking/paving related companies/associations must have bribed someone to create such a tedious weather exposed mess out of it. If that's not the case then it's even more embarrassing to think this was the best they could manage. I tend to balk at people who complain about the relatively short walk/ride between SAC and the train platforms, but in my view MDW's poorly implemented Orange Line connection is well deserving of criticism and derision.

Edited by Devil's Advocate

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Are you talking about the gate to the right of the turnstiles? It honestly doesn't look that much larger than the turnstiles themselves. It might be large enough for full size luggage turned sideways but I'm struggling to visualize a standard sized in-use wheelchair passing through that opening.

 

 

That station isn't wheelchair accessible.

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Even though the gate appears narrow, and I didn't scrutinize it as I went through the turnstile, I think it should fit most luggage, sideways, if need be. As for wheel chairs, having several friends in wheelchairs these days, even an 'extra large' wheelchair, they're all collapsible, so they should be able to fit through the 'narrows'. But then, getting a person that is wheelchair bound up about 40 steps is a whole 'nother issue...

 

Would a double-wide baby stroller fit? How about a triple? But then, how many parents with under-3 kids would even attempt those stairs?

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I agree that it is quite a hike from Midway to the Orange Line. We used it In December going into the city, but on the return trip arrived via Uber, which frankly was more pleasant.

 

 

Sent from my iPhone using Amtrak Forum

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For future information, I just got an email back from the CTA stating that the new elevators along with wider turnstiles will be opened by the end of June. Also, my bag is about 2 1/2' tall, 2' wide, and 1 1/2' long.

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The walk between the terminals at Midway and the Orange Line is so long and laborious that I cannot help but think one or more taxi/shuttle/limo/parking/paving related companies/associations must have bribed someone to create such a tedious weather exposed mess out of it. If that's not the case then it's even more embarrassing to think this was the best they could manage. I tend to balk at people who complain about the relatively short walk/ride between SAC and the train platforms, but in my view MDW's poorly implemented Orange Line connection is well deserving of criticism and derision.

The Orange Line was always intended to terminate not at Midway but a couple miles south at Ford City shopping center. Ford City isn't what it was back in the late '80s when the Orange Line was planned, but the CTA still has plans for a Ford City extension if they ever get funding.

 

The Orange Line was thus designed and built to serve Midway using an existing railroad right-of-way and then continue south in the same right-of-way to Ford City. Much of the Orange Line was similarly built on railroad right-of-way.

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The Seattle airport has a similarly long walk from the Link light rail stop through a parking garage, which I find long and annoying, but the line now extended one stop South to Angle Lake it make sense, to not make the airport a stub-end terminal. BARTs SFO Airport Station is one Ill never understand since you have to transfer to their Airtrain to get to most of the terminals anyway.

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