Seasons Greetings from the CTA! That’s nearly all it took to kickstart this holiday tradition. In 1992, an out-of-service Blue Line train was used to deliver food to charities across the city with that humble salutation.
Today there’s definitely a bigger spectacle: Santa and elves staff the train, thousands of lights decorate exterior, evergreen garlands hang from the windows, hand poles turn into candy canes and buses are outfitted with “Ralphie the Reindeer” wraps and red noses.
Though CTA hasn’t forgotten where this tradition started, employees donate time, money and assemble around 500 food baskets for local community organizations this year.
If you’d like to join in on the festive transit tradition, find the schedule for both the CTA’s holiday train and bus below.
CTA Holiday Train schedule
The holiday train will return on Friday, November 28 starting on the Green and Orange Lines then making its way across the city. You’ll always be able to find the holiday train schedule on the CTA’s website and as it gets closer to the date click on the linked date for an exact minute-by-minute schedule of when the train will be rolling through.
There are only 19 special days to catch the magical holiday train. But you might want to mark your calendar for the Saturday dates (November 24, December 1, December 8, December 15) which feature photo ops with Santa and the Elves’ Workshop Train following the main holiday train.
CTA Holiday Bus schedule
If you’d like to catch the CTA’s holiday bus, it’ll be running between November 29 and December 23 on 13 different lines. The bus will roll out in a reindeer wrap with Santa’s sleigh, a glowing red nose, tons of multi-colored lights, festive decor inside and a photo opportunity in the back. You can find the schedule for the “Ralphie the Reindeer” bus on the CTA’s website but its recommended to use the holiday bus tracker.