Chicago braces for influx of Lollapalooza commuters this weekend

It was the calm before the storm at Chicago’s Union Station, as festivalgoers began trickling downtown Friday morning and early afternoon for the second day of Lollapalooza.

With so many people concentrated in and around Grant Park for the biggest party of the summer, officials say public transportation is the most affordable and convenient way to get there.

On Thursday, when Lollapalooza attendance is lowest, Metra recorded more than 140,000 commuters and anticipates a major spike in ridership the rest of the weekend.

For comparison, on a typical weekday, Metra sees about 120,000 commuters.

Both Metra and CTA have expanded service to accommodate for the influx in passengers. Still, by Friday evening, festivalgoers said trains were jam-packed.

"It was not comfortable, seeing that there was a big population of young people on the trains, and I thought I knew what it was like to be packed inside one of those trains, I was wrong," said Pedro Espinoza, festivalgoer.


Espinoza took the Red Line to Roosevelt and said it was a dead giveaway which passengers were also heading to Lolla.

"You could tell right away, they dress to impress and they impressed me," said Espinoza.

Getting through security at the festival gates is no different.

"Oh it was so busy, it was so busy, it was like a 30-minute walk in between hurdles of crowds and everything. And then we got in through the security, and then we got in and then we were just rocking with Metallica after that," said Brendan Preskar.

Through Sunday, Metra will have extra trains running at a higher frequency and the CTA is adding service to its Red, Blue, and Brown lines.

Plus, Yellow Line service will extend until midnight each day of the festival.

FOX 32 Chicago chatted with one group who took the Metra in from Downers Grove and while they said their train car was not too busy early Friday afternoon, getting in and out of Grant Park on Thursday night was a madhouse.

"There's just hundreds and hundreds of people walking through the streets all together, all coming from Lolla, dressed up, hyped after a full day, the energy is insane it's so much fun," said Julian Kroschke.

Others opted drive.

"We all carpooled together," said Naveed Ahibd.

"It was getting pretty busy as we got closer into downtown," said Sualah Baig.

Ahibd and Baig said it took about an hour to get downtown from Skokie and in their case, they made the right move – securing a parking spot for just $20 near the festival grounds.

"Split parking between five people, $20 bucks for parking, that’s less than five bucks per person," said Mohammed Ali, festivalgoer.

Getting to the four-day festival is one feat but getting home is an entirely different story; still, festivalgoers say it's all part of the experience.

"It’s like really sort of dystopian, it’s just hundreds of hundreds of people, you cannot see anything, you’ll put your phone up and all you’ll see is a sea of people. It takes like 45 minutes to get out," said Brigid Madden, festivalgoer.

Aside from taking the train, bus or driving, many festivalgoers are also using E-scooters.

To utilize Uber or another rideshare service, Lollapalooza officials say festivalgoers will need to walk to the west side of State Street.

The South Shore Line has also updated its schedule for the weekend, with extra eastbound trains added each night. On Friday, the last train will leave Millennium Station at 10:40 p.m.