After picking up your luggage, you simply follow the red & blue signs that say "Bus/Shuttle Center". You should see them near the baggage claim. This will lead you to the Bus center. You'll be going down, over, in an elevator, and around but you'll get there--remember there are 5 terminals in O'hare so it may take a good 10+ minutes to find it depending on where you are.
The bus that takes you to Madison is the Van Galder bus. There are about 12 buses a day going to Madison. Some stop at Beloit, Rockford & Janesville. They have schedules and a guy sitting there to help you get on the right bus. Depending on how many stops you make, it should get you there in 2.5 - 3 hours. In Madison it stops at the park 'n Ride on the outskirts of town, or goes downtown to the Memorial Union on Langdon St. Cost $36 one way...$50 round trip.
To get back to O'hare, you can pick up the bus at the same locations.
I'm going to Montreal in 2 months, so I'll double check this and take photos then....
The airport on the east side of Madison is called Truax Field. It has 8 gates in 1 terminal. No real traffic here except early in the morning when planes leave for airline hubs. Might be crowded betweeen 5am and 8am, but that's crowded by Madison standards--the line to get our bag check might be up to 50 people long.
When arriving: You'll land at one of the 8 gates, get off your plane and walk about 50 yards, down an escalator and then to the right to get your bags (or a cab), if you have any. There are 2 baggage claim rotating thingies. When you get your bags you can either take a cab into city, or wait, wait, wait for a bus. Out the doors you'll see a taxi stand. Protocol is the next one in line is what you take. There are red & white (Badger cab), yellow (Union cab), silver (Madison Taxi) cabs there. Silver & Yellow ones are a little more comfortable and you'll probably ride alone and charge for each 1/7 mile--it can add up. Badger cab is usually cheaper, it charges by the area instead. You may stop and pick up or drop off another customer on your way. It will cost about $13(plus 15% tip(?)) to get to the State Capitol, about 10 minutes. There is bus service, ask at the kiosk for times, every hour I think, and will cost $1.50 to get downtown. There is a City of Madison Tourist Info Center/kiosk right between the 2 for any info you might want. From landing to walking out the door should never take more than 15 minutes.
Departing: Walk thru the doors, to your right will be the airlines, NW, AA, UA, Midwest Air (the best airline!) and others. Get your boarding pass and walk to your left, get your carry-on bags checked, up the escalator and to one of the 8 gates and see ya later!
When waiting, a great spot to hang out is a local Brewpub branch-- Great Dane BrewPub. Good place for a beer and a meal. Try the Big 10 burrito and a Devil's Lake Lager.
We've got miles and miles of RR tracks turned into bike/recreation trails. Rent a bike, or bring your own. Paths are also open for roller-bladers, walkers, runners, dog-walkers, and anything else you want to do on the paths.
- Lake Monona Loop - One goes all the way around Lake Monona, about 13 miles worth. About half of it is on lightly travled roads, and the other 1/3 is on bike trails. Go clockwise and keep the lake on your right and you won't get lost.
- Lakeshore Path. Starts at Memorial Union on the lake and goes to Picnic point. about 6 miles. dirt path takes you to the end, where you can get a great view of the isthmus, Capitol and such.
- From southern point of Lake Monona go under the bridge and take the path there. About 10 miles in each direction. Goes thru country fields, then thru neighborhoods backyards and parks. Gets a little hilly on the west side. Early morning rides look out for the deer, one came right up to me and we stared at each other for 5 minutes until I got bored.
- Off the above ride is the SW path that goes towards Camp Randall Stadium. Goes over the highway with a bridge. About 4 miles total.
You can rent a bike at Yellow Jersey at 419 State St. Located right in the middle of the block of the street. I think it's about $10/day. make sure you get a lock too, and don't leave it unlocked. Another altenative is to find a bike on the streets painted all red, including tires. They are free for anyone, but they're hard to find.
This is a very convenient way to get between Madison and Chicago. It makes several trips in each direction daily with early and late service to O'Hare. This is THE way to get between Chicago and Madison provided you don't have a ride. The bus makes stops at O'Hare airport and Downtown/Union Station in Chicago and Downtown/Memorial Union and Dutch Mill Park and Ride in Madison. It will also stop in Janesville and Beloit if there are requests, but the stops are right off the freeway, so they don't waste too much time. The buses are cheaper and more comfortable than Greyhound.
A full schedule is posted on their website. There are a bunch of other routes, but I haven't used them.
In Madison you can get a discounted round trip ticket from STA Travel in the Memorial Union if you show your student card.
madison, and especially the UW campus, seems to be the moped capital of the world. Just a heads up, where in the rest of america it is somewhat dorky, the moped is a completely acceptable and often used mode of transportation in the campus area, made so by the absence of parking for cars and the sprawling campus. when you're here, try one out. They're fun
The Van Galder bus travels between Chicago (Downtown and O'hare) and Madison. It is a very convenient way to get to Madison and avoid paying an extra hundred and fifty dollars to fly into Dane County Airport. The best part is that it drops you off right in front of Memorial Union in downtown Madison.
The ride is $24 for one way (from O'hare Airport), and it takes approximately 3.5 hours. It runs approximately every 1.5 to 2 hours. It also makes stops in Rockford, IL, Beloit, WI, and Janesville, WI. Check their website for details.
While in Madison, it is most convient to walk everywhere. The square, with its one way streets and expensive parking, is much better on foot. You can also get from the square to State Street quickly.
If you do need to get to somewhere further out, take the bus or a cab (Badger Cabs are good)
Madison is served by the Dane County Regional Airport, which is located on the east side of the city. DCRA 3-letter code is MSN, and it's a fairly small regional airport and served by all US Major Airlines, which offer flights to their major hubs.
Navigating MSN airport is easy with check-in and arrival hall on the same level and departure level on second floor. There are numerous ground transport options to the city including taxis, rental cars, hotel transfer vans, and private cars. Parking facilities are excellent and are available for short-term or long-term parkings. Driving time to downtown takes about 15 minutes whereas to the rest of the city takes about 5-30 minutes depending on your destination.
Presently, MSN airport is being renovated with designs inspired by Frank Lloyd Wright.
Taxicabs are available in Madison, but unlike in big cities, you seldom see them roaming the streets without passengers. If you need a taxi, you have to call a taxicab operator first like Madison Taxi, Badger Cab, City Cab, etc. and they'll come and pick you up. Advanced reservation is also available. Fares are reasonable and most drivers are polite and friendly. Due to shortage of taxi though, you might be subjected to share rides with other passenger especially if they want to go to the same destination as you. But in the event of shared rides, usually your fare will be reduced a little.
Getting around Madison is easy with Madison's city bus, the Madison Metro. The Metro routes go all over the city, including the nearby suburbs. The bus runs from about 5.30 am to 12 midnight and has a fixed schedule, so make sure you grab one of those schedule booklets. The booklets are available inside the bus or at public places. The normal fare is $1.50, but there are discounted fares for senior citizens, students, children, and pass holders. UW students ride free with the UW bus pass and student ID. If you need to transfer to another bus route, it's free, just ask for a transfer ticket to the driver while you board the bus. There are 4 transfer stations within the city and you can also transfer at designated transfer bus stops.
For travelling around UW campus, there is a special route L. The route is free, so it would be a great option if you want to tour around UW campus. The bus is safe, clean, well-maintained and the drivers are courteous and are willing to offer you advice on route planning, where to get off, etc.
If you're flying, Dane County Regional Airport is located on the northeast side of town. It's easy to get a cab from there, or to rent a car. If you're driving, Madison is right off I-90. There are several exits: Route 151 will take you to the east side of town, and eventually to the Capitol Square. Route 30 also will get you downtown. Route 12-18 is also known as the 'beltline.' It's the quickest way to get to the west side of town.
The 'beltline' (Routes 12/14/18/151) runs east/west through the south side of Madison, then turns north toward Middleton. The numbers can be confusing, because at I-90 (the east end) it's 12/18, and is joined by routes 14 and 151 as you drive west. Eventually 151 veers south toward Verona, and you're on 12/14 going north. Traffic can be heavy on the beltline by Madison standards, but it's still probably the quickest way to get from point A to point B.
Are you a biker? (The non-gasoline dependent kind, that is.) Madison is a great place to bike.
There are numerous bike routes and bike paths in town. A downloadable map can be found at http://ww .ci.madison.wi.us/transp/Bicycle/BikeMap/BikeMap.html. A map for all of Dane County can be found at http://www.execpc.com/%7Edc pcgis/page16.html.
If you're out of driving distance from Madison, the Dane County Regional Airport is just minutes from downtown, and is serviced by Northwest, United, American, TWA, and Midwest Express (supposedly the best airline in America in terms of comfort, services, and keeping on schedule). A car is nice to have to explore the local countryside. If carless in Madison, there is an excellent city bus system. Taxis usually need to be called for.
Dane County Regional Airport is your best bet for flying into Madison. You may find cheaper fares into Milwaukee, but will have to contend with an hour-plus drive into Madison.
Madison has a so-so bus system (Madison Metro). It's pretty good for getting around the downtown, but for seeing other parts of the city, a car is definitely an asset. Madison is also fairly bike-friendly, just be sure you lock it up when you aren't riding.
Keep in mind that Madison can be a bit confusing to navigate by car for newcomers. The isthmus between lakes Mendota and Monona was not so well planned from a traffic perspective (in my humble opinion), and you must be cautious getting through a seemingly endless maze of one-way streets in the downtown.