CTA Holiday train and bus to return, but no riders allowed

Photo taken on Dec. 17, 2016 shows a Christmas Train at 95th/Dan Ryan station in Chicago, the United States. To celebrate the forthcoming Christmas holiday season, the Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) introduced Christmas Train services. (Xinhua/Wang

The CTA’s holiday train and bus will resume their annual journeys around Chicago this season, but commuters will have to enjoy the festivities from afar due to new safety measures against the coronavirus pandemic.

“Santa and his elves will stay socially distanced this holiday season, meaning that customers won’t be able to board the CTA Holiday Train or the CTA Holiday Bus,” the transit authority said in a statement. “Instead, the CTA Holiday Fleet will run along each rail line and multiple bus routes, spreading holiday cheer across the city.”

The six-car holiday train — decorated with thousands of lights, holiday scenes and a flatbed carrying Santa Claus and his reindeer — is a staple of the season in Chicago. It will begin service Nov. 27, the day after Thanksgiving, the CTA said.

The Chicago Transit Authority's (CTA) holiday train will hit the tracks on Friday/.

The bus, which will feature “Ralphie the Reindeer” and Santa Claus,” takes off Dec. 1, the CTA said.

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“Each year, customers of all ages look forward to the arrival of the CTA Holiday Train and Bus,” CTA President Dorval R. Carter Jr. said. “Because our No. 1 priority is the health and safety of our customers and employees, we wanted to find a way to spread holiday cheer across the city, but do so responsibly. Though customers won’t be able to get on board, we know that seeing the CTA Holiday Train and Bus in neighborhoods throughout the city will bring much-needed smiles, joy and hope for everyone.”

The CTA holiday fleet schedule can be found at transit.chicago.com/holiday.