I am driving to Chicago from Detroit for a vacation for the first time, and wanted to know whether I should drive my car within the city or use the CTA 3 day pass. I know the choice can be subjective, so I would like to know opinion from someone who lives there on both modes of travel. I am not expert driver, and I won't consider my experience within the Motor City anywhere near Chicago. My worries are traffic, parking, driving rules for my car, meanwhile I am worried about using the public transport because of safety reasons and slow mode of transportation.

Update: Although I am not constrained by money, I don't want to blow it either. I don't know how safe it is to street park, as that seems quite cheaper than parking in buildings. Please rate between 1 to 10 for the three options: A) ParkChicago (street parking) B) SpotHero (building parking) C) CTA 3 day pass ( no need for car parking)

You can rate these three options on following parameters: 1. Cost 2. Safety 3. Time for travel 4. Flexibility

EDIT: Now that I have completed my trip to Chicago, I would like to add my own answer that might be useful for someone else searching for the same thing in future.

  • Very risky asking for an opinion on travel here but ;) but...the first step in this determination is what you want to do. Then, see if CTA is practical. in cases where CTA won't work, Uber or Lyft is also an option. – Johns-305 Apr 24 '18 at 2:31
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    It really depends on quite a lot: what you want to do and when. Quite a lot of Chicago is accessible by train, but sometimes it will be faster to drive than to take multiple busses and trains, and driving can make sense especially if you are cost insensitive about parking. This is true of quite a few cities, even the outer boroughs of New York. To make this question answerable, we need to know what your limiting factors are. – choster Apr 24 '18 at 3:07
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    "I know the choice can be subjective" - absolutely. Voting to close as opinion-based. – user76308 Apr 24 '18 at 5:11
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    @HoboSapiens please... you are not adding any value to this forum with your pretentious comments. – Cool_Coder Apr 25 '18 at 1:42
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    I strongly encourage you to take the site tour and review the help center. Your question remains very broad and subjective. Traffic and parking availability vary widely not just neighborhood to neighborhood but block by block, and by time of day. Different people have different priorities; some people prefer sitting in traffic in the private air-conditioned comfort of their own car to fighting crowds on transit; others despise traffic and parking stress so much that you could not pay them to drive into the city; still others grudgingly drive because they fear leaving their car in a lot so long. – choster Apr 25 '18 at 6:14

While it does depend on where you're going and what you're doing, in almost all cases CTA is the way to go.

I recommend finding a cheap parking spot somewhere once you get to the city, and leaving your car. You can use SpotHero in the city itself, or a similar service, to reserve a parking spot for a length of time... then you know you have a spot and what it's going to cost you. Alternatively, the commuter rail, Metra, has parking spots at almost all of their stations. You could park in the suburbs and take Metra downtown, then CTA around town while you're there.

  • I found parking in the city centre very expensive, a little outside you can use an app to pay for parking on the road as it runs out every 2-4 hours, saves going back to your car to get another ticket. Cant remember the app name but you will see it at the ticket machine. I used CTA to go into the city centre, I only used road parking as my airbnb had no parking just outside the city and was close to the cubs stadium. – BritishSam Apr 24 '18 at 14:19
  • Try Spot Hero... It was typically $7/day for me, in the South Loop. – Brad Apr 24 '18 at 14:21
  • 1. How do I find which CTA station has parking? Can't find it from Google or CTA website. 2. How easy is it to get street parking just outside the loop area? 3. Is it safe to park on streets? – Cool_Coder Apr 25 '18 at 1:43
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    Most CTA stations don't have parking, but some do. Look for "park and ride". Metra is a different system that goes to the suburbs, and almost all of their stations have parking. Street parking is pretty much impossible to find most anywhere in the city. If you find a spot, it's probably heavily restricted on hours. (Again, use Spot Hero so you don't have to worry about it.) As far as safety... That's all relative. :-) I've been comfortable parking on streets, but I've also witnessed vandalism, and heard of theft. Use your best judgement. – Brad Apr 25 '18 at 2:37
  • I thought that the SpotHero app only uses building parkings, and not CTA. I guess I will just use SpotHero and no need for ParkChicago app. Its not like I own an Audi or something like that, its just a 2010 Accord, hope nobody wants to steal it. – Cool_Coder Apr 26 '18 at 2:26

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