With around 10 million residents in the Chicago Metro area and 50.2 million international and domestic visitors in a given year (2014), according to Wikipedia, commuting around the Windy City is a daily adventure. Hopefully, with the right strategy, tools, and plan, commuters will get to their destination in one piece and not be late. In an effort to facilitate this small miracle, here are 3 tips for a better commuting adventure around Chicago.
1. Know Your Options
Let’s start with the basics and explain the commuting options available. Here’s a list of the most common commuting methods:
- CTA Rail/Bus (a.k.a the “EL” or “L”)
- Metra Rail
- Taxi (Car and Boat)
These are the common commuting methods (except taxi boat) people use in Chicago. Looking at the very helpful Chicago Commute Mode Map on the website transitized.com, we can see which commuting options are used the most according to the areas within Chicago.
Basically, commuting by driving solo dominates the suburbs — outside of the “Chicago Loop” (downtown area). Notably, the Near North Side all the way up to Uptown is dominated by commuters using the Metra Rail (mostly young professionals). Much of the area around the highly concentrated “Loop” is dominated by walking commuters. Driving alone is always a popular choice, but parking problems make this a difficult and expensive option.
2. Plan Ahead and Prepare
Knowing your commuting options is the first step, now preparing for the adventure is the next. In the third largest city in the U.S., commuters generally find a method that works for them and stick with it. Yet, everyone has to start from somewhere, and circumstances can change, requiring a new plotting and planning session to occur.
The optimal commute is somewhat a subjective choice; one person may prefer biking 10 miles, rather than taking a CTA bus. Maybe one person would rather take the Metra Rail, rather than drive alone, etc. There may even be someone who would rather take the CTA bus than any other option, but this is likely from their extreme adventure lifestyle. Either way, consider: what method is preferred, what method is cheapest, and what method is fastest?
With the preferred methods in mind, start mapping out the route from start to finish. This adventure will likely be a mixture of commuting methods, so each stage needs to be considered. Where will you park your car or bike, how much will the commute cost at each stage, how much does any parking and storage needs cost?
This planning may require some phone calls and web searches for specific stops and destinations along the way, in order to get the exact information needed for a smooth commute. How long will you have to wait at the intervals, and how long is each leg of the journey? In addition to knowing the main route for the journey, an alternative route should be considered just in case of an unexpected delay or issue.
Planning and preparing in some capacity needs to be done with every new adventure, even with “regular city folk.” For those who are new to Chicago, this will make the difference between a fun adventure and being part of a “lost in Chicago reality show.”
For instance, if you have to take the CTA rail or bus, make sure you have exact change, or do like regulars do and get a pass at Walgreens. Even those who are used to Chicago need to plan and prepare their commutes, when their work changes and/or they’re trying to commute somewhere different.
3. Driving Alone with Parking Options
Now that we’ve explained the options and process of successfully commuting in Chicago, let’s talk about something most people won’t admit. The preferred method of commuting for almost everyone is driving solo. This method gives people the most freedom, flexibility, comfort, and security out of all the other options. The only problem with this option is being able to find and afford parking at the final destination.
Some people have snazzy employers who provide parking, but what about the times when they’re not working? For everyone else, finding parking is difficult and then cost about around $15/day; and night parking for everyone can be unsafe and confusing. So what’s the solution?
The good news is the “driving solo commuting option” is now more possible and affordable than ever with ParqEx. This is because ParqEx helps people in Chicago (and 6 other major cities in the U.S.) find secure and affordable parking anywhere they need it!
For real, just download the ParqEx App on your smart phone, look up the neighborhood you need parking in, reserve the private parking spot you choose for the times needed, and then park there at the end of your commuting adventure. The only difference now is the adventure will be a lot smoother and less of a headache. Want to know more? Contact us today and we’ll be glad to help.