How-To Guide: Buying Fares
CTA offers a variety of fare payment options to suit your needs. Fares are paid using reloadable cards which store value for use on CTA buses and trains; fares are deducted from cards as you go. We also offer passes, which are good for unlimited riding within the time period specified on the pass.
There are several ways to pay:
- Ventra Cards & Contactless Bankcards
Easy boarding, can store money or passes, but at stations, retail locations or order online. Cards effectively free with registration.
- Ventra Tickets
Disposable, limited-use tickets for infrequent riders, can be used for a single ride (with transfers) or a 1-Day Pass.
- Transit Card
Easy boarding, card stores cash value; buy at stations or locations around town. (These cards are no longer issued.)
Unlimited rides on CTA buses and trains for a period of time.
Can be used on buses only; transfer privileges are not available with cash (buy Ventra Card, Ventra Tickets or Transit Card at train stations).
Ventra Cards & Contactless Bankcards
Ventra is CTA and Pace's new fare payment system. Get Ventra Cards at any Ventra Vending Machine in 'L' stations, Ventra Retailers around town, online or by phone. These contactless cards are easy to load and easy to use—you just tap and go.
Ventra Cards cost $5, but the cost is returned to you as value as soon as you register your card--online (by computer or smartphone) or by phone. Transit value can be used for rides on buses and trains, or applied toward the purchase of a pass.
Registering your card also protects it against loss or theft, and we'll send you a new card when your card expires. (These sturdy cards expire after four-to-five years.)
You can also use a personal, contactless bankcard to pay with Ventra. If your card has the contactless payment symbol, your card can be used to directly pay a PAYG fare, or be used with a Ventra Transit Account by loading fare value or passes at Ventra Vending Machines.
Get more information, order cards and manage your account at http://ventrachicago.com.
Ventra Tickets are a new disposable fare option. These paper, contactless tickets are vended from machines in every station and can be a great option if you're just visiting or are an infrequent rider (if you ride CTA or Pace regularly, we recommend getting a Ventra Card to pay the regular fare with transit value or multi-day passes).
Ventra Tickets are good only for a limited time and cannot be loaded again once used up. There are two types of tickets available:
- Single-ride Ticket: $3
Includes a full fare and two transfers (a $2.50 value), plus a $0.50 limited-use media fee.
- 1-Day Pass Ticket: $10
Good for unlimited rides for 24 hours.
Chicago Card Plus
With Chicago Card Plus, your fares are stored in an online account.Your card can function as either a pay-per-use or a 30-day unlimited ride pass.Additionally, if your card is lost or stolen, it can be replaced.
These cards are being phased out in Autumn 2013 and replaced with Ventra, our new fare payment system.
Get full details about Chicago Card Plus at http://www.chicago-card.com.
With Chicago Card, your fares are stored on the card and are deducted as you use it. As part of the transition to Ventra, these cards are still accepted but can no longer have value added. Get a Ventra Card to maintain all the same features and conveniences.
Transit Cards are farecards that store value which you add at vending machines located at CTA train stations and various locations around town. You can also buy pre-loaded Transit Cards at a number of locations.
All stations have Transit Card Vending Machines. The machines accept cash/coin only and do not give change--insert only what you wish to put on the card.
Transit Cards are also accepted on Pace.
Locations where Transit Cards are available
We offer 1-Day and multi-day passes that allow unlimited rides for the specified time. A 7-Day Pass, for example, allows you unlimited riding for seven full days from the first time you use the pass. Some passes work on both CTA and Pace.
Passes are available at every Ventra Machine: Load onto a Ventra Card or buy a new card and load a pass onto it at any Ventra Machine).
Some retail locations sell magnetic stripe passes (not reloadable), though these cards are being phased out this autumn.
Special free ride passes are also available for eligible riders. (See Reduced Fare & Free Ride Programs.)
See also: Fares (includes list of current passes and pass prices)
If haven't already bought a fare card, you can also pay with cash on buses--exact fare is required (bus drivers do not give change). You cannot purchase a transfer when paying in cash (farecards are required for transfer).
If you're boarding a train, turnstiles do not accept cash or coins--but you can use cash to buy or load value on a Ventra Card or to buy a limited use Ventra Ticket.