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The accessibility of public transportation in Chicago is one of the reasons that the city has continued to grow. Please register to participate in our discussions with 1.5 million other members - it's free and quick!
When it comes to rail service both Chicago and Philadelphia are considered one of the best in the country. But again I am too unfamiliar with this subject to really make a definitive statement - I've never been on PT in Philly and only been on the El about 3-4 times. Metra is a commuter rail system but most lines would count as heavy rail only the Metra Electric would not. A few el lines Namely the Yellow and Purple serve the burbs and the Blue, Green, and Pink lines have terminals a short distance into the burbs (i.e.
The south shore line is considered an interurban but there really is a lack of major cities for Chicago to Connect to that are a short distance away and would not count as heavy(it is electric). The El does not cover Chicago past 95th street to the south but Metra Electric sort of picks up some of the slack. Also that map is a little old, part of the Blue line(the Cermack Branch) is now the Pink line and has weekend service. The only city (other than NYC) that matches up well with Chicago when it comes to rail is DC. As a former Chicagoan who was a fan of the local rail transit (and frequent user of the L and the commuter lines) I am actually a bit blown away by how extenisve SEPTA is (+ the stuff in Jersey). Philadelphia is a big city, but that system beats Bostons, and is probably on-par with Chicago.
Would you all say that for rail transit, its pretty much NYC area, Philadphia and Chicago, the Boston, then the "aslo-rans'? Agree about the difference between commuter rail and local rail, but for those that live a short distance from a commuter rail, they're rather useful, especially if you're willing to time your leaving trip. The CTA operates the nation's second largest public transportation system and covers the City of Chicago and 35 surrounding suburbs. Within the Midwest, Amtrak offers convenient, non-stop service from destinations like St.

Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) is a fast, easy and reliable new option for getting around Chicago, and it’s coming to the Loop. Chicago Loop Alliance creates, manages and promotes high-performing urban experiences, attracting people and investment to the Loop. Chicago once had one of the world’s largest streetcar systems, more than 500 miles of line on nearly 100 routes by 1935. More than 3,700 large red streetcars plied the city’s streets by 1935, and 680 new streamlined green PCC cars began arriving after World War II.
There are more than 150 CTA bus routes in the city that cover more than 2,200 miles of road. The CTA alone has created many jobs in the city, not to mention all the business that has developed near CTA rail stations and bus routes. However it was rerouted so that it runs around the loop and back rather than go into the subway with the Blue line. A bit on the slow side, but I found them pleasant and convenient, though I didn't take it that far out (about 47th street). One advantage of Philly's commuter rail is it makes multiple stops in the center city unlike Chicago's which all terminate in separate stations at the edge of the loop. Bus looks a bit slower [Bajan probably can say how much worse it is in reality] but frequency is much higher.
The Chicago El by David Paul OhmerThe ability to get around without a car quickly and easily is one of Chicago's most attractive features. Louis, Milwaukee and Grand Rapids to Chicago's Union Station, which is located just west of the Loop within walking distance of most destinations. Loop stations include Millennium and Van Buren Street stations, both located just east of the Loop in Millennium and Grant parks. The only public transportation system in the United States that is larger is New York City's. There are over 200 miles of rail throughout Chicago that provide service over 140 stations. Traffic congestion has led to a large walking population that depends on public transportation to move around the city.

It basically heads across making no stops to the Green Line's tracks on Lake Street and shares the Ashland, Morgan, and Clinton stops with the green line before heading into the loop.
So for many, additional transit or a long walk isn't required from the commuter rail end point in Philly. The 27 bus uses I-95 for much of the way so its speed is probably comparable outside of rush hour. The services that the CTA provide to the residents of Chicago are invaluable to their daily lives. Aurora and Joliet are somewhat large cities in IL connected via Metra, but Metra does not go to Rockford. They're not so useful for making a random trip from Center City to Manayunk to pick up something you spotted on Craigslist. Those taking the commuter rail in Chicago, especially for non-work related trips, might have a more cumberous trip. If you are a visitor to the city, you will no doubt appreciate how easy it is to travel about the city on the CTA.
Perhaps a downward cycle occurs: few take the train because the bus comes more often, train frequency declines, since few take the train. One of the few transit systems that provides a rail service to two airports, the Chicago Transit Authority boasts 1,781 buses and over 140 routes. Taking public transportation in Chicago is a very viable option since the streets and expressways are often very crowded.
Buses generally follow major roads.The train system is made up of both subways and elevated trains and has eight lines.

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