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faster, easier boarding

New Prepaid Fare Payment Coming to the #J14, 19, 20, 56, 60, 124 and 157 at the Madison/Dearborn-State Loop Link Stop

As part of our continued efforts to improve service and reliability for customers, we’re launching a three-month pilot to test prepaid fare payment at the westbound Madison/Dearborn-State Loop Link station during evening rush periods.

Starting Monday, September 19, you’ll no longer wait to pay your fare onboard the northbound #J14 and 56, and westbound #19, 20, 60, 124 and 157 buses at the Madison/Dearborn-State station. During the evening rush period (3pm to 6:30pm), you will be able to pay your fare in advance of boarding so you can get on your bus and get to your destination more quickly.

While prepaid boarding is in effect, customers at this stop will be required to have purchased a fare before entering the platform and boarding a bus. The designated boarding area will be defined by the existing raised boarding platform and signage, as well as mobile fare equipment. The area will also be staffed by designated CTA employees similar to train stations to help assist customers.

The setup at the Madison/Dearborn-State station during periods when prepaid boarding is in effect will be similar to how a CTA ‘L’ station works – before you board a bus, you’ll tap your farecard to enter a designated waiting area. You can pay using fare value in a Ventra Transit Account on a Ventra card, ticket, or other valid fare media such as a contactless bankcard or RFID-enabled smartphone. Once in the ‘paid area’, you will be able to enter and exit buses freely, increasing the speed and efficiency at the bus stop. When the bus arrives, just step on board, similar to how you board the train. Note that outside of evening rush periods, when prepaid boarding is not in effect, you will pay your fare onboard the bus as before.

The pilot is expected to provide customers with faster boarding, and reduce bus delays that occur from the high volume of customers during evening rush periods. Current boarding times during evening peak periods can take as long as 4 minutes per bus due to heavy ridership and with buses operating every 1 to 2 minutes, backups and bunching can occur and lead to delays along each route. Moving the fare payment off of the bus will speed boarding, moving buses through the stop faster and reducing delays for every customer using Loop Link bus routes.

The pilot will run during fall 2016. The CTA then will determine whether to conclude the pilot, extend it or make it permanent based on analysis and customer feedback.


How will I pay my fare?

When you arrive at the Madison/Dearborn-State Loop Link station, you’ll see signs giving notification about the prepaid boarding procedure, and signs on the entrance ramps that mark the start of the prepaid fare collection area. Tap your Ventra Card, ticket, or other valid fare media on the yellow dot on the Ventra reader, just as you do on the bus or at a rail station turnstile. Then enter the designated paid waiting area on the raised boarding platform. When the bus arrives, just step on board.

When will I pre-pay my fare?

Prepaid fare payment will be in effect from 3pm to 6:30pm on weekdays. At all other times, pay your fare on board the bus.

I need to put money on my Ventra card before I can pay my fare. What should I do?

You can reload your Ventra Card anytime at, using the free Ventra App (available for download and use on Apple and Android smartphone and tablet devices via, the App Store and Google Play), at a Ventra vending machine, or at hundreds of Ventra retail locations. Ventra vending machines are located at all CTA rail stations – the Washington Blue Line, Monroe Blue Line, and Monroe Red Line stations are closest, all located within one block.

You can also reload or purchase Ventra cards at retail locations throughout the city – a Walgreens is located next to the station, on the northwest corner of Madison and State, which sells Ventra cards and where fare value or passes can be purchased and loaded onto your card. Other Ventra retailers can be found at

I prefer to pay cash when I board the bus. How will I pay my fare?

Fare payment is faster and easier with a Ventra card, and only a Ventra card can be used to pay for transfers. If you prefer to pay cash, tell the CTA employee on duty that you want to pay cash to board the bus. The employee will provide you with a special Ventra card and direct you to the adjacent Walgreens. At the counter, load $2 or more on the Ventra card, depending on how many fares you want to be able to pay. You can then tap the loaded card at the Ventra reader and proceed into the paid waiting area.

Where can I send my questions and comments about this change?

We always welcome your feedback! Please contact us with any questions or comments about prepaid fare payment, including cash fare payment procedures. You can reach us by phone at 1-888-YOUR-CTA (1-888-968-7282) or by email at You can also write us at CTA, 567 W. Lake St., Chicago IL 60661.


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