When determining housing and getting to/from campus, you may want to consider public transportation options, such as the U-Pass. Evanston is a great hub for public transportation that includes buses, shuttles, and trains. Northwestern’s campus is in a good location for accessible transportation, including University shuttles that provide transportation around Evanston and to the Chicago campus. The City of Evanston has a Web site devoted to getting around Evanston using public transportation.
Below are listed some transportation options:
Through the Graduate School, graduate students utilize the CTA
U-Pass program that provides a reduced fare
card used on all Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) transportation
(the El system and buses). A mandatory student activity
fee of $78 ($74 toward the U-Pass) is charged to each student’s
account each quarter. The U-Pass is definitely something you want
to factor into your decision when choosing housing.
The “El” is Chicago’s elevated train system and
is probably one of the cheapest ways to get around Evanston and
Chicago. It’s operated by the Chicago Transit Authority
You will be able to use your U-Pass on the El. One-way
fare options are available as well as multiple-ride passes.
There are stations at Howard, Main, Davis, Foster and Central Streets
in Evanston. Kellogg is located at the intersection of Foster
and Sheridan. Trains run about every 15 - 20 minutes during
weekdays, but the wait can be longer on nights; weekend service
is not available. The El has different lines that run, and
these lines are distinguished by color. Evanston is on the
purple line of the El system. Check online
for more information regarding the services that are provided.
The El can get you to a lot of places in and around Evanston and Chicago, and it also services both O’Hare and Midway Airports. Please note that care should be taken when riding the El at night. Unfortunately, safety is a concern. Be smart and travel during rush hours when people are present. If you have to take the El at night, try to ride with a friend.
The Metra train is faster and more comfortable than the El, but it runs less frequently and is more expensive. Metra fares are NOT covered by the U-Pass. There are Metra stations at Main, Davis, and Central Streets in Evanston. The Union Pacific/North Line trains run from Chicago all the way to Kenosha, Wisconsin. While the El makes its way around Chicago through various lines, the Metra line ends at the Ogilvie Transportation Center at Madison and Canal Streets in Chicago. Check online for information regarding the services that are provided.
There are numerous bus routes throughout Evanston, and the U-Pass provides you with savings on bus fares. The CTA offers several options and destinations and a list of their schedules is found online.
Along with the CTA bus routes, there are also PACE buses. PACE is a suburban bus service that runs throughout Evanston and most other Chicago-area suburbs. A list of their schedules is found here online.
One-way tickets can be purchased as well as the option to transfer to other buses or trains. Multi ride passes are also available.
Northwestern University Shuttles
Northwestern offers several shuttles for Northwestern students, faculty and staff. The Northwestern Intercampus shuttle is a bus that takes students to various destinations on the Evanston and Chicago campuses. The shuttle is free to Northwestern students and employees who provide a current WildCARD (Northwestern ID card). The shuttle services run year-round from Monday through Friday, except for University holidays. A copy of the schedule is available online.
The Ryan Field shuttle operates Monday through Friday during the fall, winter, and spring quarters only, except University holidays. There is no charge for the shuttle service; you just present your WildCARD when boarding.
During the school year, the Evanston Loop shuttle and the Campus Loop shuttle operate seven days a week in the evenings between 9:00 p.m. and 3:00 a.m. during certain times of the year. There is no charge for the shuttle; you just need to present your WildCARD.
RideShare will provide Northwestern students with a cheap and
convenient option for traveling to and from campus to O’Hare
Airport as they coordinate their travel with other students.
The ASG Airport Shuttle will pick up Northwestern students at 600
Emerson Street (Cahn Auditorium) and drop them off at O’Hare
Airport, Terminal 1. As of now, the shuttle service will only take
students to O’Hare Airport.
Another option is Airport
Express, a van transportation service that works on a reservation
basis, and generally provides shared ride services. Northwestern
has negotiated discount rates for the Northwestern community. Reservations
are handled through an online reservation service.
If you have problems or questions about your online reservation call 800-654-7871 to speak with someone from Airport Express.
a service provided to members of the Northwestern community as a
safe and free alternative to walking alone after dark. SafeRide
drivers provide rides to and from destinations in and around Evanston.
Here is information on Service
locations. The use of SafeRide is limited to Northwestern faculty,
staff and students, and you must have a WildCARD to use SafeRide.
Because SafeRide is a safety service rather than a taxi service,
they cannot accept large parties. Please consider other options
such as walking as a group or Northwestern's shuttle services.
For those of you in need of a taxi, Susan Jackman recommends the services of 303 Taxi. 303 is a dispatch taxi service. If you are at the airport (O’Hare or Midway) or are leaving from another designation in Chicago or the suburbs, you would telephone 303 and a taxi would be dispatched. You can also make arrangements for a taxi to pick you up on a particular day and time by making a reservation. They are very reliable, and Susan has used their services for years. It’s unfortunate, but sometimes there are taxi drivers at the airport who take advantage of those not familiar with the area and the general cost of a taxi. 303 provides safe and reliable service.
The phone numbers vary depending on where you are calling from. From O’Hare or Midway Airports, the phone number is 773-763-0303. O’Hare is the closest airport to Northwestern’s campus. For the northern suburbs, the phone number is 847-256-0303.
Driving a Car and Parking on Campus
Students can also drive to campus. Students living off campus and
outside the walking zone are eligible for a Northwestern parking
permit available from the Parking
Office. When choosing a place to live, you should keep in mind,
walking zone. To be eligible for a parking permit, one
must reside north of Central Street, west of Ridge Avenue (not on
it) from Central Street to Emerson Street, west of the Metra tracks
from Emerson Street to Lake Street and south of Lake Street (not
For the 2012-2013
academic year, a parking permit costs $510. Increases to the fee
should be expected each year. There is another option for parking
on campus and that is parking at Ryan Field, the football stadium.
Ryan Field permits are sold during the fall and winter quarters
only and cost $25 for the year. There is a shuttle that takes people
from Ryan Field to various spots on campus (including the Jacobs
Center where Kellogg is housed), so that is a cheaper option for
you. During the summer months, you can park on campus.
Parking on campus
is not easy to find. There are not enough spaces during peak
periods to accommodate everyone’s car. A tip –
when driving to campus, it is best to arrive before 8:30 a.m.
(Northwestern opens at 8:30 a.m.) or during lunchtime (11:30 a.m.
- 1:30 p.m.) when people tend to move their cars. There's also parking
found in the two-story parking garage in the Arts Center.
Parking on campus is free after 4:00 p.m. on weekdays and free on
Obtaining an Illinois Driver’s License
For those who do not have a driver’s license or need an Illinois driver’s license, they should contact the Illinois Secretary of State’s Office. Drivers moving to Illinois may use their valid driver's license from their home state or country for 90 days. You may obtain an Illinois driver's license only if you are becoming a legal resident of Illinois. Illinois does not recognize the international driver's license. You must change your vehicle registration within 30 days by completing a form at a Driver Services facility.
The Secretary of State’s Office provides a list of services on their Web site. This Web site has links to “frequently asked questions,” how to obtain a driver’s license and license plates for your car, “rules of the road,” Secretary of State facilities, etc.
You must successfully complete a vision screening, written examination and possibly a driving examination, and pay the appropriate fee ($30). An Illinois driver's license is valid for four years.
International students who are not eligible for a Social Security Number in year one because they are not working would have to apply for a Temporary Visitor Driver's License as a foreign national. There are certain Secretary of State Offices that provide this temporary license, so take a look at the locations provided online. The “Chicago North” facility would be the closest to Evanston/Chicago.
Like other Illinois communities, the City of Evanston requires all
vehicles registered to an Evanston address to pay an annual wheel
tax and properly display a valid city vehicle sticker. Every
resident must purchase a vehicle
sticker for each vehicle registered with the Secretary
of State, State of Illinois, to an address within the City of Evanston.
Vehicle stickers expire every year. A new sticker needs to
be purchased by January 5 for the upcoming year. For 2013,
the cost is $75 and a 50% penalty ($113) will be charged if a permit
is received after January 5. After July 1, you would pay
only 50% of the applicable fee when applying for a vehicle sticker
($37.50 rather than $75).