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How-to Guide: Pay Fare as a Senior With an RTA Reduced Fare Permit

There are a variety of options available for paying your fare when you have an RTA Reduced Fare Permit for seniors and it's easy to learn how.

  

Fare Payment Options

There are four ways to pay. All methods require a valid RTA Reduced Fare Permit.

Fare Type Info
RTA Reduced Fare Permit
image: rta reduced fare card
 
  • Value is stored on permit or Ventra Transit Account; fare is deducted on buses and at rail stations.
  • Add value to permit at any CTA Transit Card Vending Machine if you have a magnetic stripe card.
  • If you have a Ventra Reduced Fare Permit, add value or the CTA/Pace 30-Day Reduced Fare Pass with at any Ventra Vending Machine, online, over the counter at Ventra Retailers or over the phone. All Ventra Vending Machines take cash or cards for payment.
CTA Reduced Fare Transit Card
icon: reduced fare transit card with rta permit
 
  • Value is stored on card; fare is deducted on buses and at rail stations.
  • Add value to card at any CTA Transit Card Vending Machine.
  • At rail stations, request assistance from station personnel.
  • Purchase online, at CTA Headquarters and at select locations across Chicagoland.
CTA Reduced Fare 30-Day Pass
icon: 30-day reduced fare transit card with rta permit
 
  • Offers unlimited riding for a 30-day period.
  • 30-day period begins with first use; cannot be reused once period ends.
  • Purchase online, at CTA Headquarters and at select locations across Chicagoland.
Cash
icon: cash with rta permit
 
  • Cash fare is accepted on buses only, rail turnstiles do not accept cash.
  • At rail stations, request assistance from station personnel.

 

How-to Chart

This chart explains, more precisely, how to use your RTA Reduced Fare Permit with the various fare payment options you have.

To pay using…

On buses:
(use farecard slot on machine attached to side of farebox)

At train station turnstiles:
(use slot to your right, on top of the turnstile surface)

Money stored on your RTA Reduced Fare Permit

Insert your card, then remove it when it pops back up.

Insert your card, remove it when it pops back up, then proceed through the gate.

Reduced Fare Transit Card

Insert your Reduced Fare Transit Card and show the bus driver your RTA Reduced Fare Permit. Remove your card when it pops back up.

Ask the Customer Assistant for help. Show them your RTA Reduced Fare Permit, then with them present, insert your Reduced Fare Transit Card and remove it when asked to do so.

Reduced Fare 30-Day Pass

Insert your Reduced Fare 30-Day Pass, then remove it when it pops back up. Next, insert your RTA Reduced Fare Permit and remove it when it pops back up.

Insert your Reduced Fare 30-Day Pass, then remove it when it pops back up. Next, insert your RTA Reduced Fare Permit and remove it when it pops back up. Then, proceed through the gate.

Cash / coin

Insert the exact amount into the cash or coin slots on the top of the farebox and show your RTA Reduced Fare Permit to the bus operator.

Train station turnstiles don’t accept cash; add value to your RTA Reduced Fare Permit at a vending machine and use your card to enter.

Notes
  • If you don’t have enough money on your RTA Reduced Fare Permit or Reduced Fare Transit Card when boarding the bus, you can still use it as long as there's some value on the card (at least five cents). Just pay the difference between what’s on the card and the fare that’s due (use exact change—excess money put into the farebox when making up the difference does not get stored on the card). In doing so, you’ll be able to use your card for transfers (then also adding the transfer fee at the time of your first transfer).
  • There’s very little difference between using your RTA Reduced Fare Permit and a Reduced Fare Transit Card except that it’s easier to use the RTA Reduced Fare Permit, by itself. It’s only one card you need to carry and use as you go and you won’t need a station attendant to assist you in getting through train station turnstiles.

 

Q&A

How do I use my new RTA Reduced Fare Permit?
The new magnetic cards are easily inserted into the farecard slot on bus fareboxes and rail station turnstiles by dipping the card down and pulling it back out again.

Will the new permit work?
Yes. CTA uses these magnetic cards for other customers and they are easy to use and function efficiently.

Where can I add value to my RTA Reduced Fare Permit or CTA Reduced Fare Transit Card?
There are several locations where customers can add value: at the Transit Card Vending Machines at CTA rail stations, CTA Headquarters, and select grocery stores and currency exchanges.

Does a Chicago Card or Chicago Card Plus work with my new RTA Reduced Fare Permit?
No. Only the new cards issued will be valid for seniors who are eligible for reduced fare rides.

I want to ride free. How do I apply for the RTA Circuit Ride Free Permit?
For eligibility requirements and for an application, contact RTA Customer Service at 1-312-913-3110.

 

More Help

CTA Customer Service

Information regarding CTA fares

On the Web
Where to buy fares, in person
Buy fares online
How to ride the bus
How to ride the train
How to pay a fare
 

By Phone
1-888-YOUR-CTA (1-888-968-7282),
TTY: 1-888-CTA-TTY1 (1-888-282-8891)
Open 7am to 8pm, weekdays

In Person
567 W. Lake Street
Chicago, IL 60661
Open 8am to 4:30pm, weekdays

 

RTA Customer Service

Information about the Reduced Fare Program or Circuit Ride Free Program

By Phone
1-312-913-3110
TTY: 1-312-913-3111
Open 8:30am to 5pm, weekdays

In Person
69 W. Washington
Chicago, IL 60602
Open 8am to 4:30pm, weekdays
rtachicago.com

 

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