So I arrived on my flight from Washington, DC to O'Hare Airport last night and I saw something COMPLETELY DIFFERENT. Van Galder/Coach USA has, at last, moved their stop for the bus to Madison, Wisconsin right next to my Pace bus stop for the 250 bus to and from Evanston. As of June 1st, 2023, all regional buses arrive and depart from the O'Hare Airport Multi Modal Facility (MMF). Car Rentals are also arranged from this point.
What does this mean, you ask? Why is this guy even saying this? WHO CARES?
Well. Pace route 250 bus is soon (by fall 2023 I believe given construction progress of the bus stops) becoming a PULSE line. PULSE on Pace means the trip from the Metra Union Pacific North Line and the CTA Purple Line stop out of Davis Street in Evanston near Northwestern University will become much faster. Of course there are many ways to connect to the 250 PULSE bus along Dempster Street. For example the Metra UP Northwest line to Harvard is a very convenient way to bring your bicycle on board the Pace 250 bus at the Des Plaines Metra.
The 250 bus always has and it will continue to provide bicycle racks.
Based on my phone call with Coach USA, my conversation with the bus driver last night at O'Hare and in writing through their customer service email, Van Galder/Coach USA buses always have and will continue to provide storage in their baggage areas for fully assembled bicycles on their trips to Madison, Wisconsin. The current rate is $25.00 per bicycle. But be warned - only buses with the baggage area UNDERNEATH the seating aisle can do this. And if I were you I would email and call customer service when you buy your ticket to let them know you are taking a bicycle on board the bus.
Of course anyone coming from the loop can take the Metra North Central Service from Union Station to the O'Hare Transfer station and within about 5 minutes you'll be at the O'Hare MMF bus stop for Van Galder-Coach USA to Madison, Wisconsin.
What does this mean to you as a cyclist? Plenty. 1.) Access to the newly renovated Elroy-Sparta Trail and then the route to La Crosse, WI 2.) Then from La Crosse the Mississippi River Trail continues to Minneapolis. 3.) Nobody is making you go that way and there are extensive trails all around Madison, WI, including the trail to New Glarus, WI. 4.) No riding the ATS train through the airport wondering whether airport security is going to give you trouble.
Thank you for this information update. I tried to plan a carless Sparta-Elroy trip from Chicago via Amtrack but figured out they only allow bikes to exit at Milwaukee. I will look into it now via bus to Milwaukee.
Is anybody interested in such a trip with me this fall?
Take your bike to La Cross, using the Trainside Carry On Service for bikes:https://www.amtrak.com/onboard/bring-your-bicycle-onboard.html.
Take the State LaCross River Trail to Sparta, then the State Elroy-Sparta trail to Elroy. Then the 400 State Trail to Reedsburg.
It's a nice trip, mostly off-road trail riding with a short distance between trails.
I understand the Chicago Amtrak -> LaCrosse -> Sparta -> Elroy -> Reedsburg part. Once in Reedsburg do you reverse and go back to LaCrosse? A couple of years ago, I looked at connecting to the Sparta-Elroy trail via Reedsburg to Columbus and decided, No. I see now that a Madison connection would not be much different. I guess I will keep waiting on Amtrak to allow bikes to egress or enter at Wisconsin Dells.
If I take an Amtrak-bike-Amtrak trip this year I would like to do Amtrak-GAP trail-Amtrak. I have not decided which is preferable; bike from Pittsburg to Cumberland or bike from Cumberland to Pittsburg.