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Paying a Fare

How-To Guide: Paying your fare

It's easy to pay your fare. On buses, you pay as you enter the bus. At train stations, you pay as you pass through the turnstiles before reaching the boarding area.

See also: Fares

Ventra ReaderPaying with Ventra Cards or Ventra Tickets

Simply tap your card or ticket to the lower part of the Ventra reader on top of train station turnstiles and on buses.

When you tap correctly, you'll hear a sound that indicates the card was read, and then a second sound along with a screen that tells you to "Go" or "Stop."

Since Ventra is based on industry standard payment technology, take your Ventra Card out of your wallet to be sure the correct card is charged.

See Fares for complete details.

 

photo: Chicago Card readers at train station and on busPaying with Chicago Card / Chicago Card Plus

Wave your card past the Chicago Card pad to register your fare.

  • At train stations, it's the circle on the front of each turnstile. When your fare is accepted, the turnstile will tell you to enter--the green "Enter" light will turn on and you can walk through the gate. With regular Chicago Cards, the turnstile will also show you the value remaining on the card.
     
  • On buses, the Chicago Card reader is attached to the side of the the farebox, when you enter.
     
  • If your trip requires you to transfer between buses or between buses and trains, you will be automatically charged the transfer fee when you use your card to transfer--you do not need to pay for the transfer on the first part of your trip.


Paying with Transit Cards

photo: where to insert farecards at train turnstiles and on bus farecard machineOn the train

Most train station turnstiles have a Transit Card slot on top. Insert your card and remove it. The green "Enter" light will illuminate and you can walk through the gate. Also, the display will show you how much was deducted, how much remains on your card, and how many transfers are available to you.

If your trip requires you to transfer between buses or between buses and trains, you will be automatically charged the transfer fee when you use your card to transfer--you do not need to pay for the transfer on the first part of your trip.

On the bus

Each bus farebox has a "farecard machine" mounted on the side, which has a Transit Card slot on top. Insert your card and remove it.

When your fare is paid, the machine will show you the remaining value on your card and the number of transfers available as part of your trip ("T2" indicates two transfers are available).

If your trip requires you to transfer between buses or between buses and trains, you will be automatically charged the transfer fee when you use your card to transfer--you do not need to pay for the transfer on the first part of your trip.

 

Paying with Magnetic-Stripe Passes

(Note: Magnetic-stripe passes are inserted just like Transit Cards, see photo above)

The first time you use your pass, it's automatically activated for the length of time for which the pass is good. Fare collection equipment will print the expiration time on the back of the card.

On the train

Most train station turnstiles have a Transit Card slot on top. Insert your card and remove it. The green "Enter" light will turn on, and the display will also tell you to enter.

On the bus

Each bus farebox has a "farecard machine" mounted on the side, which has a Transit Card slot on top. Insert your card and remove it.

 

Paying for Multiple Riders

If you're traveling with other people, Ventra Cards, Chicago Cards and full-fare Transit Cards can be used for up to seven people at once.

With Chicago Card or Transit Card, multiple riders using the same card to start their trip at the same time and location (paying the full, initial fare at the same turnstile or on the same bus). Ventra eliminates this limitation and you can start paying for friends traveling with you even if you've already been riding.

  • At train stations, each person should individually touch a Ventra Card, Chicago Card or insert a Transit Card that's being shared, and enter when indicated. Fares will be deducted accordingly.
  • Tell the bus driver you wish to pay for multiple people and follow his or her direction to pay (the driver may need to push a button for your card to be charged multiple times, for your protection).

 

Paying Full Fares with Cash

If you don't have a farecard, we also accept cash and coins.

On the train

At all CTA 'L' stations, you can buy a new Ventra Card (effectively free, once registered), disposable Ventra Tickets or Transit Card using bills and coins (dollar coins, quarters, dimes, and nickels) at vending machines.

Add cash value at vending machines to Ventra Cards or Transit Cards, and your fares will be deducted as you use your card (full fares or transfers).

Vending machines do not give change, so add only as much as you wish to your card.

All Ventra Vending Machines also allow you to load value and unlimited ride passes to Ventra Cards with either cash or cards.

On the bus

On the bus, you can pay for a one-way fare in cash. Exact change is required (no change is given). Buses accept $1 bills and most coins (no half-dollars). Transfer is not available when paying in cash on the bus. If you need to transfer, buy a Transit Card at dozens of retail locations around town or at any CTA train station.

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