You may have already gotten lucky and rode on it, but the Chicago Transit Authority's Holiday Fleet is back! Beginning last week, the Allstate CTA Holiday Train and Bus have been traveling the city, brightening the day with their colorful displays.
The Holiday Train features six cars decked out in lights and holiday scenes in addition to Santa and reindeers. Santa also rides the Holiday Bus, which is outfitted as "Ralphie the Reindeer" and features artwork on its interior by students from Perkins Bass Elementary School. Santa will be available on specific days for photo opportunities; see the CTA website for details, including what routes and lines the Bus and Train will be on every day.
To accomodate larger crowds on Saturdays, the Holiday Train will be accompanied by the Elves' Workshop Train, which adds additional cars.
The train generally operates in the late afternoon and the evening. CTA advises that you try to board near the beginning of a route, as the train becomes especially crowded, especially on days when you can take a picture with Santa. You can see where the train is using the CTA Train Tracker, where it will be denoted with a candy cane. You can follow the location of the Holiday Bus at transitchicago.com/holidaybustracker.
The Holiday Train tradition begain in 1992, when an out-of-service train being used to deliver food to charities on the Blue Line was decorated with a sign proclaiming "Season's Greetings from the CTA." The decorations are much more elaborate now, but CTA employees continue to donate time and money to deliver food to community organizations across the city over the holidays.