Commuting To Chicago
Metra is the Commuter Train system.
The Barrington Metra Station has 2 parking lots
The main downtown train station is Ogilvie.
If you're heading into the northern parts of Chicago you might want to get off 1 stop early at Clybourn. But only the first 6 cars open there (and they don't announce that on the train), so if you're sitting in the wrong place you're out of luck.
If you're going to write the CTA Commuter Bus, you'll want a Ventra card. There's a Ventra mobile app, but it doesn't do touch-pay, so you'll still need a physical card. If you're in Ogilvie, there's a machine that sells them inside the enclosed waiting room near track4. Otherwise you can buy one at various locations, including (many? all?) CVS.
Once you have the Ventra card, you can use the Ventra app to add more money to it.
You can also buy electronic Metra tickets in the Ventra app, which you just show to the conductor on your phone.
The Ventra app also includes a TransitTracker feature to tell you when a Commuter Bus is arriving at a certain station. It's not very user-friendly except when you Favorite your frequent stops. I still use Google Maps to suggest routes and direct me to the stop.
All the TransitTracker apps use the same "RealTime" data from the CTA. Unfortunately I've found that very inaccurate (for the #132 bus I take which only runs every half-hour). So it will say the bus is reaching my stop in 15min, and then it's 10min ahead of that so I miss it.
This might be partially due to generally horrible GPS usability in Chicago.
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