Chicago Transit Authority officials said they plan to increase service as weekend visitors head to St. Patrick’s Day festivities and a Big 10 tournament at the United Center. Track work will also interrupt normal Brown Line service Sunday.
Anyone heading downtown should allow extra travel time and load transit value or ride passes on Ventra cards ahead of time to avoid long lines at station vending machines, the CTA recommends.
The annual St. Patrick’s Day parade downtown steps off at noon Saturday in Grant Park. Longer trains will operate on the Red, Brown, Blue and Orange lines both Friday and Saturday as revelers head downtown, the CTA said.
On Saturday, trains will run more frequently — every 4 to 6 minutes — on the Red Line from 8:30 a.m. to 7 p.m., the CTA said.
Seven downtown bus routes will be detoured from 7 a.m. until 3:30 p.m. near the parade to accommodate the festivities. Those include:
No. 6 Jackson Park
No. 10 Museum of Science & Industry
No. J14 Jeffery Jump
No. 124 Navy Pier
No. 126 Jackson
No. 146 Inner Drive/Michigan Express
No. 147 Outer Drive Express
The Illinois Lottery will also be operating a free trolley Saturday from 3 p.m. to 9 p.m. with stops at Union Station, the House of Blues and Bootleggers downtown and the Cubby Bear in Wrigleyville. The trolley is promoting the lottery’s St. Patrick’s Day Millionaire Raffle game.
The South Side Irish St. Patrick’s Day parade takes place Sunday, starting at noon at Western and 103rd. The No. 103 West 103rd and No. 112 Vincennes/111th buses will be detoured between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. around the parade.
For those heading out on the roads, the Illinois Department of Transportation warns that state and local police will be cracking down on impaired driving starting this weekend, and urges partygoers to choose a designated driver.
College basketball fans will also be out and about, enjoying a weekend full of games at the Big 10 Tournament at the United Center. The No. 19 United Center Express, No. 20 Madison and No. 50 Damen bus routes provide direct service to the area for all games.
No. 19 express buses will leave every 10 minutes from Michigan and Randolph beginning 90 minutes before the start of the first game, until 10 minutes after the start of the second game of each session, the CTA said.
After the games, riders can catch a bus back downtown on the north side of the United Center near Gate 3, the CTA said. The Blue, Green and Pink lines all have stations a few blocks away from the United Center as well.
On the Brown Line, track work Sunday from 5 a.m. to 6 p.m. will reroute all trains between Fullerton and downtown. During that time, Brown Line trains will instead travel on the State Street Subway tracks that also serve the Red Line.
Brown Line trains will serve each station between North/Clybourn and Roosevelt in both directions, the CTA said. The reroute will not affect trains between Kimball and Fullerton.
Free shuttle buses will run in both directions between Fullerton and Clark/Lake for passengers wishing to board or exit from the Armitage, Sedgwick, Chicago and Merchandise Mart Brown Line stops.
A shuttle train will also operate around the Loop for connections to Brown Line service in the subway and shuttle buses at Clark/Lake, the CTA said.