Airport Transit System

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Airport Transit System
Airport Transit System (logo).png
Type People mover
Locale O'Hare International Airport, Chicago, Illinois
Termini Airline Terminal #1 (westbound)
Remote Parking (eastbound)
Stations 5
Opened May 6, 1993[1]
Owner Chicago Airport System
Operator(s) Chicago Airport System
Character Elevated
Rolling stock 15 VAL 256-type cars
(12 in service)
Line length 2.7 mi (4.3 km)
Track gauge 1,880 mm (6 ft 2 in)
Operating speed 50 mph (80 km/h)
Route map
Consolidated rental
car facility
Mannheim Road
Remote Parking
Terminal 1
Terminal 2
Terminal 3
Blue Line
Terminal 5
The O'Hare Airport Transit System with the on-airport Hilton Hotel in the background

The Airport Transit System (ATS) is an automated people mover system at Chicago O'Hare International Airport. The 2.7-mile (4.3 km) system was built by Matra at a cost of $127 million,[2] and began its operation on May 6, 1993.[1] It can accommodate up to 2,400 passengers per hour.[3]


The ATS runs 24 hours a day and is free to ride between its five stations located throughout the airport. Each station is fully handicapped accessible, and features elevator access. The travel time from the beginning to the end of the line is approximately nine minutes[3] at an average speed of 26 mph.[2]

The entire system uses platform screen doors, which means that all the stations are enclosed with doors along the boarding area. When the train arrives at a station, the doors of the train and the station align and open in sync with each other. This method prevents people from leaving the platform, falling on the tracks or tampering with restricted areas. Climate control is also ensured since the four terminal stations are directly connected to the airport.

There are two cars in each train, and each car can hold 57 passengers, most of them standing, and 8 seated.

The previous bus system took twice as long when traffic was light, and even longer during congestions.[2]


The system has two tracks, and stops at all five stations in both directions.

It has its west end at Terminal 1, which is located inside the airport's domestic terminal loop, and makes a counterclockwise loop around the parking garage, with stops at Terminal 2 and Terminal 3. Parking Garage A is accessible from any of the three terminal stations, as is the O'Hare station of the CTA's Blue Line. Parking Lots B and C are only accessible from Terminal 1 and 3 stations, respectively.

Outside the terminal loop, the ATS has a long stretch that connects to Terminal 5, the airport's international terminal, which is adjacent to Parking Lot D. Access to and from this terminal is only available by riding the ATS. North of Terminal 5, the ATS turns north, crosses over the access road and Blue Line, and reaches the Remote Parking area, located within Parking Lot E, one of airport's three long-term parking lots. The station also features a Pace bus stop and a "Kiss 'n' Fly" drop-off area. Shuttle buses operate 24 hours a day to and from this station to connect passengers with Parking Lots F and G. A shuttle bus also connects this station with the O'Hare Metra station on the North Central Service line to Chicago Union Station inbound and Antioch outbound during the train's service hours.[4]


The ATS uses the French-based VAL technology, which features fully automated, rubber-tired people mover cars. The system is capable of traveling at speeds of up to 50 mph (80 km/h), and was the first to use the 256-type vehicle, named for its width of 2.56 m (8 ft 5 in).[5] The airport originally obtained 13 256-type cars to be used in the system, and two additional cars later were purchased from Jacksonville, Florida's JTA Skyway after the Jacksonville Transportation Authority decided to switch to a more cost-effective technology. Out of the system's 15 cars, only 12 of them are utilized at the moment, with three held in reserve.[6] Currently, the ATS is one of two systems in the world to use the 256-type cars, with the other being the Wenshan Line of the Taipei Metro.[5]

Future enhancements[edit]

To improve efficiency at O'Hare, a modernization plan has been implemented, which also includes changes to the ATS. The current system has not been upgraded since the system was launched in 1993, and changes will be made to reduce the long station wait times as well as the crowdedness of the trains. The new system enhancements will cost around US $90 million, and will include 24 new people mover cars, plus an extension of the line past the current terminus at Parking Lot E to connect with a future remote parking garage near Economy Lot F. It is also in the plans to add a shuttle bus system that will run from the rental car facility to the airport 24 hours a day similar to Midway Airport shuttle bus system.[6]

On May 1, 2015, the city of Chicago awarded a contract to Parsons Construction Group to construct a 2,000-foot (610 m) extension of the Airport Transit System to the Consolidated Rental Car Facility, a new location which would consolidate the rental car companies at O'Hare into a single edifice.[7]


  1. ^ a b Fornek, Scott (May 6, 1993). "Moving Experience Ready at O'Hare". Chicago Sun-Times. p. 4. Retrieved January 16, 2010. 
  2. ^ a b c Ziemba, Stanley. People Mover Is Getting Around O'hare Chicago Tribune, May 16, 1993. Accessed: January 3, 2011.
  3. ^ a b "Airport Transit System (ATS) at O'Hare". Chicago Airport System. Retrieved June 14, 2007. 
  4. ^ "O'Hare International Airport Visitors Guide" (PDF). October 2005. Archived (PDF) from the original on February 27, 2007. Retrieved June 14, 2007. 
  5. ^ a b Gary, Dennis; Art Peterson. "A technology alternative to the VAL system on the O'Hare Airport Transit System (OATS)" (PDF). PB Rail & Systems, Inc. Retrieved June 14, 2007.  Paid subscription
  6. ^ a b Hilkevitch, Jon (February 19, 2007). "Inside Chicago's plan to get you to O'Hare". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved June 14, 2007. 
  7. ^ "City of Chicago Awards Contract for First Phase of ORD CRCF". Chicago Department of Aviation. May 5, 2015. Retrieved April 23, 2016. 

External links[edit]