By Car | CTA Route (from O’Hare / Midway / Downtown) | RTA Metra from Downtown Chicago
Pullman is conveniently located near I94 and also nearby Interstates 90 and 57, plus accessible by the Metra Electric, a commuter rail line run by the RTA (Regional Transit Authority) directly from downtown Chicago’s Millennium Station, Van Buren Station and 11th Street Station for example (do not use Union Station – that is not the correct station – ask for one of the three stations listed from the downtown area which are – from north to south – Millenium Station, Van Buren Station or 11th Street Station.
Additionally it is possible to travel to Pullman by CTA Redline subway/elevated train from downtown and in combination with CTA Bus Route 115. Trains and buses on CTA use a VENTRA transit card while the Metra Electric train is on a separate payment system. You will find ticketing windows at Millennium and Van Buren stations and machines at most other stations. If there is no machine at your boarding station, just pay on board. If you are alone on the platform you may need to wave down your conductor (applies at the 111th street flag stop at Pullman) or from downtown make sure to request your stop at 111th.
Get driving directions by clicking the map:
OVERVIEW OF PUBLIC TRANSIT OPTIONS
There are a couple of options for getting to Pullman. If you are traveling from an airport with a lot of luggage, you might prefer to transfer to the Metra once in the ‘Chicago Loop’ if your timing is right since it’s generally easier than the bus if you have large luggage. Otherwise, you can take the Chicago CTA here – two trains and one bus detailed below.
CHICAGO PUBLIC TRANSIT MAPS
This image shows the rough area of CTA coverage, compared to the RTA.
You can see the CTA is focused on the main part of the city (the small box around the largest circle) while the RTA provides extensive regional coverage to suburban communities.
Note that you cannot use VENTRA, the CTA payment system, on the Metra Electric or any other RTA commuter rail line. This is a very, very, very common point of confusion. The Metra Electric requires a separate payment because it is run by the RTA not the CTA.
So again, you must pay separately, generally speaking, for RTA versus CTA. Keep that in mind if you are coming in from the airport (CTA train) and considering loading up your Ventra – make sure you can use it at your actual destination.
You will need Ventra to get from the airports to the city center.
From there, head to the east side (Millenium, VanBuren Stations) if you are heading to Pullman by Metra.
TRAVELING BY CTA ONLY
To use only the CTA to get to Pullman, take the Redline train all the way to the end of the line at 95th. Then take Bus Route 115 to Pullman (it boards on the south east corner of the station). The bus will drop you off at 111th and/or along Cottage Grove Avenue – make sure to notify the driver that you need to stop by pulling the cord or just tell the driver.
PULLMAN TO DOWNTOWN CHICAGO USING CTA /VENTRA
You can reverse the route by getting on CTA Bus Route 115 at the NE corner of 111th and Cottage Grove.
Use ctabustracker.com for generally excellent results, especially in winter! If you are heading to the bus stop from my place at 111th and Champlain, head west to Cottage Grove Avenue along 111th, just to the north of us. It is about a 3-5 minute walk, depending on traffic.
CTA System Map Highlights for Air Travelers
TRAVELING FROM DOWNTOWN CHICAGO BY METRA
Metra System Map with the Metra Electric Line Highlighted in Orange
So Exactly Which ‘Metra Station‘ Gets a Person to Pullman?
Once in the city center, you can also get to the various main RTA Metra Train Stations.
Important – there are literally a few ‘Metra’ stations colloquially referred to as the ‘Metra Station’ by local daily riders as a short-hand:
– Union Station (SW corner of the downtown ‘Loop’)
– Millennium Station (NE corner of the loop)
– Van Buren Street Station (SE corner near the Loop)
Only the latter two stations serve Pullman, plus a few other trains, and trains headed to the state of Indiana (Southshore Line).
Another important note – these stations are not next to one another – separated by about a 15-20 minute walk – so make sure you are headed to the correct station.
PLEASE NOTE: Many Chicagoan’s don’t actually know where the Metra Electric is located if the do not use it and assume all trains leave Union Station.
People typically get lost because they have asked for directions at this juncture in their travels from an airport to their final destination and a helpful person has sent you to the wrong station by mistake.
So be careful when you ask for directions to the ‘METRA STATION’ – this generic term might land you on the wrong side of the loop.
Ask for directions to Millennium Station or Van Buren Street Station on Michigan Avenue for best results- when headed to Pullman via Metra Electric.
Millennium Station – the Main Metra Electric Departure Station
To enter Millennium (or Van Buren Street) station along Michigan Avenue (main entrances) look for the tunnels heading down, with elevators close by. Pictured are the steps at the SW corner of Randolph and Michigan Avenue, which is the main entrance to Millennium Station which is essentially underneath Millennium Park, so head on down the steps.
See this silver pillar? You are on the right path to the Metra Electric to Chicago’s south side. Note there is a popcorn store just on the right in this photo, right in the inside entrance to the station. There are also other fast food restaurants in this corridor like Burger King, Subway, Popeye’s / pizza, a bar, florist shop, newsstand with snacks,shoe shiner, dry cleaner, juice bar, and Starbucks coffee. Oh yes, tacos and a breakfast grill / Indian home style food shop. Yes, you can get a nice hot breakfast or tasty lunch or dinner once you are certain you’ve found your train and you can hear the announcements for boarding through the corridor.
How to Buy Metra Electric Tickets
You can purchase Metra tickets on your device or using the traditional methods of machine or human agent, depending on your boarding station. If you see neither, such as at 111th Street Station in Pullman, then you can purchase a ticket on board with cash and the $5 surcharge for on board ticketing is waived; make sure to tell the conductor you boarded at 111th. This does not apply at 115th where there IS a machine and you do need to purchase prior to boarding to avoid the surcharge so allow time for that is you are a newbie Metra rider – the trains are usually quite on time.
Here is another useful factoid for Metra Electric – you must purchase a Zone A-C Metra ticket, etc., depending on your trip destination or departure vis-a-vis Pullman. This is how the train fare is determined.
This flyer scan explains zones.
Metra System Map with Metra Electric Highlighted
There is no elevator at 111th Street Station and lots of stairs. There is an elevator at 115th Street Station and ample parking, which you will need to pay a nominal fee for – allow time to return to your car with your parking stub. There is also free on-street parking near the station along Cottage Grove.
RULES for BIKES on the METRA
Here is a tourist map of Chicago for downtown attractions, an older copy. You can clearly see on this map the first three Metra Electric station (good when coming from O’Hare airport) – the purple blocks – the first (northmost) is Millenium, then Van Buren (good when coming from Midway Airport), then 11th Street – beautiful, scenic station by Grant Park and near the Field Museum, Shedd Aquarium, and the Adler Planatarium.
You can find this type of map at the Tourist Information Center that is downstairs in Macy’s at Randolph and Wabash, near the escalators (SW). This is just a block from Millennium Station (north lobby / Randolph street entrance). Planning to visit a lot of attractions? Make sure to inquire into the several types of attraction admission discount programs available.