Reduced Fare & Free Ride Programs
A "full fare" is the regular fare for riders on the CTA. Full fare is typically paid when you first board a bus or train as part of a trip.
Some riders, such as students and people with disabilities, qualify for reduced fares. There are also some free ride programs for those who qualify.
Seniors: Looking for info on how to use an RTA Reduced Fare Permit to pay your fare? Learn how here.
On this page...
Reduced Fare Program Details
Quick Reduced Fare comparison:
- Reduced Fare Transit Card or Reduced Fare Permits (buses)
$1 Reduced Fare + 15 cents for up to two transfers within two hours
- Reduced Fare Transit Card or Reduced Fare Permits (rail)
$1.10 Reduced Fare + 15 cents for up to two transfers within two hours
- Reduced Fare with cash on buses
$1.10 Reduced Fare
See our Complete Fare Chart to determine how much a full fare or reduced fare trip costs (and note that, in order to make paid transfers, you'll need to pay with a farecard).
Children, 7 through 11 years of age
Each child pays a Reduced Fare. Tell bus operator or see Customer Assistant or security guard for assistance at train stations.
Note: Children under 7 ride free with a fare-paying customer.
Student Reduced Fare
The student reduced fare is valid on school days only between 5:30am and 8:30pm. The following groups are eligible to pay a student reduced fare on CTA:
- Children ages 7-11
- High school students ages 12-20 with valid CTA Student Riding Permit
$0.75 Student Reduced Fare (cash or with farecard)
+ 15 cents for up to two transfers within two hours (with farecard)
Student Riding Permit
Student riding permits, which entitle students to a Student Reduced Fare, are available for students 12-20 years old, and are obtained through the elementary or high school where a student is in attendance, or by calling 1-312-932-2923.
These permits are valid from 5:30am through 8:30pm on school days, only.
Cost to get the card:
- Regular school year: $5
- Summer session: $2
Student Riding Permit Application Forms
You may also use these forms to apply for a Student Riding Permit:
For parents/students/school administrators:
For school administrators, only:
College students do not qualify for the Student Reduced Fare. The CTA U-Pass for college/university students, however, is available through participating institutions.
RTA Reduced Fares
- RTA Reduced Fare Permit
- Visit the RTA's Web site or call (312) 913-3110 to apply for the RTA Reduced Fare Permit.
- If you are aged 65 or older, you are eligible for reduced fare through the RTA Reduced Fare Program.
- All Medicare cardholders are eligible to apply for the RTA Reduced Fare Permit.
- If you have a disability, you may also qualify for this program. (More information...)
- Reduced Fare Permit allows the permit holder and an attendant to each ride at the reduced fare.
- Reduced Fare Permit entitles the holder to travel at reduced fares on CTA, Pace and Metra.
Reduced Fare Permits can store value to pay fares on CTA and Pace. Value can be added at vending machines located at CTA rail stations. Vending machines accept one, two, five, ten, and twenty-dollar bills, and all coins except pennies and half dollars. Maximum value on the card can not exceed $100.
- Most Reduced Fare Permits are for the use of one person only.
- A Reduced Fare Permit allows one reduced fare for the Permit holder and one reduced fare for an attendant accompanying the Permit holder to be paid using the Permit with transfer eligibility maintained for both individuals.
- Reduced Fare Permit entitles the holder to travel at reduced fares on Pace and Metra.
- Learn how seniors can use the RTA Reduced Fare Permit here.
Free Ride Program Details
Military Service Pass
- Active U.S. military personnel in full uniform and presenting their United States Armed Forces ID may ride free on CTA buses and trains.
- Active U.S. military personnel and qualifying disabled veterans with a CTA Military Service Pass may ride free on CTA buses and trains.
- To obtain a CTA Military Service Pass, visit an authorized CTA service center on select days of the month.
- See Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) for locations, dates and times to visit a service center, and more.
The Seniors Ride Free Program Ends Thursday, September 1, 2011
Due to a new law passed by the State of Illinois, the Regional Transportation Authority’s (RTA) Senior Ride Free Program will end and all RTA Seniors Ride Free Permits will be deactivated on Thursday, September 1.
Effective September 1, only qualifying seniors with a valid RTA Circuit Ride Free Permit will be eligible to ride free on the CTA. All other seniors will be eligible to ride the CTA at a reduced fare with a valid RTA Reduced Fare Permit.
People with Disabilities Ride Free
The Regional Transportation Authority (RTA) system began allowing free rides on fixed-route transit to riders issued a “Circuit Permit” as part of the People with Disabilities Ride Free Program enacted under Senate Bill 1920.
The legislation requires free rides on fixed-route transit (regularly scheduled CTA, Metra, and Pace buses and trains) to be made available to any Illinois resident who has been enrolled as a person with a disability in the Illinois Circuit Breaker program.
Learn more about the program at the RTA's website.