Pink Line (CTA)

The Pink Line is an 11.2 mi (18.0 km) rapid transit line in Chicago, run by the Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) as part of the Chicago "L" system. It is the CTA's newest rail line and began operation for a 180-day trial period on June 25, 2006, running between 54th/Cermak station in Cicero, Illinois and the Loop in downtown Chicago. The route to the Loop follows tracks shared with Green Line trains on Lake Street, connected by the previously non-revenue Paulina Connector.

Pink Line
Loop-bound train at 18th station, December 2018.JPG
A Pink Line train of 5000-series cars at 18th.
TypeRapid transit
SystemChicago "L"
LocaleChicago and Cicero, Illinois, United States
The Loop
Daily ridership33,737
(avg. weekday September 2012)
OpenedJune 25, 2006
Operator(s)Chicago Transit Authority
CharacterElevated and At-Grade Level
Depot(s)54th Yard
Rolling stock5000-series
Line length11.2 mi (18.0 km)
Track gauge4 ft 8 12 in (1,435 mm) standard gauge
Minimum radius90 feet (27 m)
ElectrificationThird rail, 600 V DC
Route map

South Shore Line
Van Buren
Central Park
closed 2003

Initial proposalEdit

Northward view from the Adams/Wabash station at night
Chicago Transit Authority control tower 18 guides elevated Chicago "L" north and southbound Purple and Brown lines intersecting with east and westbound Pink and Green lines and the looping Orange line above the Wells and Lake street intersection in the loop
Pink and Green line elevated tracks crossing Franklin Street in the Loop
The Lake Street Elevated bridge over the Chicago River at night

In January 2006, the CTA held hearings on its proposal to reroute trains from 54th/Cermak via the recently rebuilt Paulina Connector to the Lake Street Green Line tracks, then operating around the Loop clockwise for the first time since Douglas trains began using the Milwaukee-Dearborn Subway in downtown Chicago on June 22, 1958. This would allow a doubling of Blue Line trains to Forest Park on the Congress Branch, since service would no longer be divided between the Forest Park and 54th/Cermak terminals. The CTA has also promised that service to/from 54th/Cermak would be increased 100% during weekday rush hours.

At the initial time of proposal, this plan was often referred to as the "Silver Line," as the original idea was to use gray as the line color on printed materials and give it the friendlier route name of "Silver."

On February 15, 2006, the CTA approved the separate plan.[1] Non-rush hour trains would be routed via the Loop, Green Line tracks and Paulina Connector. During weekday rush hours, service would be available on this routing as well as the original route via the Dearborn Street subway every half hour. These changes went into effect beginning June 25, 2006, with the trial period scheduled to end 180 days later on December 22, 2006.


As the Blue Line Douglas BranchEdit

Originally, Douglas trains were operated by the Metropolitan West Side Elevated directly into the Loop by means of the Metropolitan's main line. Construction of the Congress Street Superhighway (known now as the Eisenhower Expressway, I-290) in the 1950s required the removal of the Metropolitan's main line, resulting in Douglas trains being routed to the Loop via the Paulina Connector and the Lake Street 'L' similar to the current service. Upon completion of the new Congress branch in the median of the expressway, all trains of the Douglas branch were operated via the Milwaukee-Dearborn Subway to the city's Northwest Side and to O'Hare  . The entire Douglas Branch is ADA accessible.

Converting to the Pink LineEdit

On March 30, 2006, the Chicago Transit Authority announced that of the top three colors, Pink, Gold and Silver, Pink had received the most votes in a write-in essay contest for Chicago-area schoolchildren in kindergarten through 8th grade—a $1,000 savings bond was awarded to a selected essay writer who advocated the color pink.[2]

The Pink Line began operation on June 25, 2006, using the rebuilt Paulina Connector which had not been used in regular revenue service for 48 years.

The service, which was originally set up as a temporary service to be run for a trial period of 180 days (6 months), doubles service on both the Douglas branch and the Forest Park branch of the Blue Line. This is accomplished by routing all but 12 trains per day coming from O'Hare   to Forest Park and adding entirely new service from the 54th/Cermak terminal in Cicero to The Loop via the Paulina Connector and the Lake Street branch of the Green Line. Pink Line trains operate clockwise on the Inner Loop track via Lake-Wabash-Van Buren-Wells before returning to 54th/Cermak.

On December 12, 2006, the CTA board approved a six-month extension to the trial period before making a decision on whether or not to make the changes permanent,[3] and another 180-day extension was added to the trial in June 2007.[4] On December 4, 2008, CTA announced its decision to make the Pink Line permanent.[5]

Current routingEdit

On the Pink Line, what was once the Blue Line's Douglas branch begins at 54th Avenue and Cermak Road in Cicero (5400 W. - 2200 S.). The line runs on at-grade tracks parallel to Cermak Road from the terminal to about a quarter-mile (400 m) east of Cicero Avenue, then diagonals northeast until it reaches a corridor parallel and adjacent to 21st Street at Kostner Avenue. It then continues east between 21st Street and Cullerton Street, climbing up from at-grade tracks to elevated tracks, through the North Lawndale, Little Village and Pilsen neighborhoods of Chicago, with stops at Kostner, Pulaski, Central Park, Kedzie, California, Western and Damen. The line turns north near Paulina Street stopping at 18th and Polk stations, then crosses over the Eisenhower Expressway (Interstate 290). Here, a two track non-revenue branch diverges that descends to the expressway to provide a non-revenue track connection to the Blue Line. It continues on the Paulina Connector to share tracks with the Green Line on Lake Street with stops at Ashland, Morgan and Clinton, before operating around the Loop clockwise.

Operating hours and headwaysEdit

The Pink Line operates between 54th/Cermak and the Loop weekdays from 4 a.m. to 2 a.m., and weekends from 5 a.m. to 2 a.m. Trains run on a minimum headway of 20 minutes after midnight, decreasing to 8-9 minutes during weekday rush hours.[6]

Rolling stockEdit

The Pink Line is operated with the Bombardier-built 5000-series railcars. Trains operate using four cars on weekdays and weekends. Frequently, the Pink and Green Lines borrow each other's cars when either line is short on cars. Also, since September 17, 2018, two cars sets assigned to the Pink Line make weekday rush hour trips on the Blue Line. The 5000-series cars returned to the Pink Line on May 7, 2012. At the time of their reintroduction, all Pink Line consists using 5000-series cars were six cars long. As of mid-August 2012, the Pink Line was using the 5000-series cars in four and six car consists and with the successful testing of the Pink Line 5000-series cars in four car consists during August, the Pink Line reverted to running four cars during most times of the day (with some of the 5000-series cars that had been assigned to the line, were reassigned to the Green Line). The last 2600-series cars were removed from service from the Pink Line on June 8, 2012, making the Pink Line the first line to be fully equipped with the 5000-series cars. Most of the Pink Line's 2600-series cars were reassigned to the Blue Line to replace its 2200-series cars.

Possible route to RavenswoodEdit

In 2002, the CTA proposed the creation of the "Circle Line", which would utilize segments of existing rail lines to keep new construction to a minimum, in addition to 6.6 miles (10.6 km) of new subway and elevated segments to the 'L' system to complete the circumferential route. Maps additionally suggested a possible extension of the existing Brown Line beyond the Loop to 54th/Cermak via the Green Line and the Paulina Connector, and Orange Line service from Midway   to Kimball, as other potential routings using the new infrastructure. This project is currently undergoing a standard federally mandated alternatives analysis.

Station listingEdit

Location Station Points of interest and notes
Cicero 54th/Cermak     Auxiliary entrance at Laramie

Points of interest:
Morton College, Chicago Motor Speedway, Morton East High School, and Unity Junior High School
  CTA buses: 21 Cermak and N60 Blue Island/26th
  Pace buses: 316 Laramie Avenue, 322 Cermak Road/22nd Street, and 771 Brookfield Zoo Express/CTA Pink Line

Cicero   Points of interest:

Hawthorne Works
  Metra trains: BNSF Railway (at Cicero)
  CTA buses: 21 Cermak, 54 Cicero, 54B South Cicero, and N60 Blue Island/26th
  Pace buses: 302 Ogden/Stanley and 392 Green Line Cicero CTA/UPS Hodgkins

North Lawndale, Chicago Kostner   Originally Kildare. Reopened as Kostner on July 17, 2003; Kildare converted into auxiliary entrance

Points of interest:
Hawthorne Race Course and Chicagoland Sports Hall of Fame

Pulaski   Points of interest:

Homan Square
  CTA buses: 53 Pulaski and 157 Streeterville/Taylor

Central Park   Points of interest:

South Lawndale and Little Village
  CTA buses: 82 Kimball/Homan and 157 Streeterville/Taylor

Kedzie   Points of interest:

Douglas Park, Our Lady of Tepeyac High School, and WRLL Radio Station
  CTA buses: 52 Kedzie

South Lawndale, Chicago California   Points of interest:

Douglas Park, Cook County Jail, Little Village, and Mount Sinai Medical Center
  CTA buses: 94 California

Lower West Side, Chicago Western   Points of interest:

Heart of Chicago, Heart of Italy, and St. Matthew Evangelical Lutheran School
  Metra trains: BNSF Railway (at Western Avenue)
  CTA buses: 49 Western and X49 Western Express

Damen   Originally Hoyne. Reopened as Damen on July 22, 2004. Hoyne converted into auxiliary entrance

Points of interest:
Chicago International Produce Market, and Cristo Rey Jesuit High School
  CTA buses: 50 Damen
  Pace buses: 755 Plainfield/IMD Express

18th   Points of interest:

Pilsen, St. Adalbert's, and Mexican Fine Arts Center Museum
  CTA buses: 18 16th/18th

Near West Side, Chicago Polk   Points of interest:

Illinois Medical District, University of Illinois at Chicago, Rush University, Rush University Medical Center, and Little Italy
  CTA buses: 7 Harrison and 157 Streeterville/Taylor
  Pace buses: 755 Plainfield/IMD Express

Ashland   Points of interest:

United Center (Home of the Chicago Bulls and the Chicago Blackhawks)
  CTA "L" trains: Green Line
  CTA buses: 9 Ashland and X9 Ashland Express

Morgan   Points of interest:

UIC, Greektown, Coyne College, Fulton-Randolph Market District

Clinton   Points of interest:

Chicago Transit Authority Headquarters
  CTA "L" trains: Green Line
  Metra trains: Union Pacific / North Line, Union Pacific / Northwest Line, and Union Pacific / West Line (at Ogilvie Transportation Center)
  CTA buses: J14 Jeffery Jump, 56 Milwaukee, and 125 Water Tower Express

The Loop, Chicago Clark/Lake   Inner Loop platform

Points of interest:
James R. Thompson Center and Richard J. Daley Center
  CTA "L" trains: Purple, Green, Blue, Brown, and Orange Lines
  CTA buses: 22 Clark, 24 Wentworth, 134 Stockton/LaSalle Express, 135 Clarendon/LaSalle Express, 136 Sheridan/LaSalle Express, and 156 LaSalle

State/Lake Inner Loop platform

Points of interest:
Chicago Theatre, Gene Siskel Film Center, Harold Washington College
  CTA "L" trains: Red Line (at Lake)
  CTA buses: 2 Hyde Park Express, 6 Jackson Park Express, 10 Museum of Science and Industry, 29 State, 36 Broadway, 62 Archer, and 146 Inner Drive/Michigan Express


Closed September 3, 2017; demolished and replaced by Washington/Wabash
Washington/​Wabash   Consolidation of Madison/Wabash and Randolph/Wabash. Opened August 31, 2017

Points of interest:
Chicago Cultural Center and Millennium Park
  Metra trains: Metra Electric District (at Millennium Station)
  South Shore Line (at Millennium Station)
  CTA buses: J14 Jeffery Jump, 20 Madison, 56 Milwaukee, 60 Blue Island/26th, 124 Navy Pier, 147 Outer Drive Express, 151 Sheridan, and 157 Streeterville/Taylor

Madison/Wabash Closed March 16, 2015; demolished and replaced by Washington/Wabash
Adams/Wabash Inner Loop platform

Points of interest:
Grant Park, Petrillo Music Shell, Buckingham Fountain, Art Institute of Chicago, Orchestra Hall, and DePaul University
  CTA "L" trains: Purple, Green, Brown, and Orange Lines
  CTA buses: 1 Bronzeville/Union Station, 7 Harrison, 28 Stony Island, 126 Jackson, and 151 Sheridan

Harold Washington Library – State/Van Buren   Inner Loop platform

Points of interest:
Harold Washington Library Center, DePaul University, Robert Morris University, John Marshall Law School, Chicago Bar Association, and The Auditorium Building of Roosevelt University
  CTA "L" trains: Orange, Brown, and Red Lines (at Jackson/State) and Blue Line (at Jackson/Dearborn)
  CTA buses: 2 Hyde Park Express, 6 Jackson Park Express, 10 Museum of Science and Industry, 22 Clark, 24 Wentworth, 29 State, 36 Broadway, 62 Archer, 146 Inner Drive/Michigan Express, and 147 Outer Drive Express

LaSalle/Van Buren Inner Loop platform

Points of interest:
Chicago Board of Trade and Chicago Board Options Exchange
  Metra trains: Rock Island District (at LaSalle Street Station)
  CTA buses: 22 Clark, 24 Wentworth, 36 Broadway, and 130 Museum Campus

Quincy   Inner Loop platform

Points of interest:
Sears Tower
  Metra trains: BNSF Railway Line, Heritage Corridor, Milwaukee District/North Line, Milwaukee District/West Line, North Central Service, and SouthWest Service (at Union Station)
  Amtrak trains: California Zephyr, City of New Orleans, Empire Builder, Hiawatha Service, Illini and Saluki, Illinois Zephyr and Carl Sandburg, Capitol Limited, Cardinal, Hoosier State, Southwest Chief, Texas Eagle, Lake Shore Limited, Pere Marquette, Wolverine, Blue Water, and Lincoln Service (at Union Station)
  CTA buses: 1 Bronzeville/Union Station, 7 Harrison, 28 Stony Island, 37 Sedgwick, 126 Jackson, 130 Museum Campus, 151 Sheridan, and 156 LaSalle

Washington/Wells   Inner Loop platform

Points of interest:
Chicago City Hall, Civic Opera House, and Chicago Mercantile Exchange
  CTA "L" trains: Purple, Brown, and Orange Lines
  Metra trains: Union Pacific/North Line, Union Pacific/Northwest Line, and Union Pacific/West Line (at Ogilvie Transportation Center)
  CTA buses: J14 Jeffery Jump, 20 Madison, 37 Sedgwick, 56 Milwaukee, 60 Blue Island/26th, 124 Navy Pier, and 157 Streeterville/Taylor

After stopping at Washington/Wells, Pink Line trains return to Clinton, then make all stops back to 54th/Cermak.

See alsoEdit


  1. ^
  2. ^ Chicago Transit Authority. And the color is... Pink Line. Last updated March 30, 2006. Retrieved March 30, 2006.
  3. ^
  4. ^ "Agenda - Chicago Transit Board - Regular Meeting, June 13, 2007". Chicago Transit Authority. Archived from the original on 2008-01-24. Retrieved 2007-08-19.
  5. ^
  6. ^ "Pink Line Trains schedule" (PDF). Chicago Transit Authority. Retrieved June 3, 2018.

External linksEdit

Route map:

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