CTA Reminds Customers of Upcoming Changes to RTA's Seniors Ride Free Program

August 25, 2011
The Chicago Transit Authority today reminded senior citizen riders of what they need to do to continue riding CTA buses and trains for free OR at reduced fares with their new RTA farecard since the Seniors Ride Free program is ending soon.
“There were more than 400,000 seniors enrolled in that program and the CTA Customer Service department has received 208 calls since Tuesday with seniors asking for information on how it all works,” said CTA President Forrest Claypool. “We know how important it is to make sure our customers are given the best information possible because they rely on the CTA to take them a lot of places. We understand the significance this change will have on seniors, which is why we all are making every effort to clearly communicate what’s happening and when.”
The most important fact to remember is that effective Thursday, September 1, the Regional Transportation Authority’s Seniors Ride Free farecards will no longer be accepted on CTA buses and trains.
The CTA understands the significance this change will have on senior riders which is why every effort is being made to clearly communicate what’s happening and when. As part of its efforts, CTA is raising awareness, providing information to senior centers, public libraries and other key locations across the service area; playing automated announcements and posting alerts on buses and rail cars; distributing multi-lingual brochures and also making sure CTA personnel are aware of the changes and are prepared to assist these customers.
This includes deploying CTA information specialists to stations and bus stops during the hours when most seniors travel.
The RTA has mailed new “Circuit Ride Free” farecards to those seniors (ages 65 and older) who qualify for the Illinois Circuit Breaker program, which will allow them to continue to ride for free. New RTA Reduced Fare Permits have also been mailed to those seniors who had been using Seniors Ride Free farecards but do not qualify for the Circuit Breaker program. The Reduced Fare program is the same program that was in effect prior to the free rides for seniors program.
Seniors who do not possess a Circuit Ride Free farecard or an RTA Reduced Fare Permit will be asked to pay the regular full-fare.
There are four ways to pay a reduced fare while traveling on the CTA – all methods will require customers to have their valid RTA Reduced Fare Permit on-hand for verification before paying:
  1. RTA Reduced Fare Permit: the permit is a magnetic strip farecard that also can be used to store value. Value can be added to the card at any CTA Transit Card Vending Machines (TCVMs). Exact fares and transfers are automatically deducted when the permit is inserted into the fareboxes on buses or at rail turnstiles.
  2. CTA Reduced Fare Transit Card: separate from the reduced fare permit, customers can use this magnetic strip farecard to store value to have exact fares and transfers deducted on buses and at rail stations, but must be accompanied by a valid RTA Reduced Fare Permit.
    • Paying on Buses – customers must first show the operator their reduced fare permit then insert their card into the farebox.
    • Paying at Rail Stations – fare payment will require assistance from the Customer Assistant (CA) or security guard on-duty.
  1. CTA Reduced Fare 30-Day Pass: also a magnetic strip farecard separate from the reduced fare permit, the CTA Reduced Fare 30-day Pass is activated with its first use and offers unlimited riding for a 30-day period.
    • Paying on Buses and at Rail Stations– customers must first insert the reduced fare 30-day pass into the bus farebox or rail turnstile and then insert the RTA Reduced Fare Permit.
    • The farecard cannot be re-used once the 30-day period has ended.
  1. Cash: transfers are not issued when paying by cash. Cash fares are only accepted on buses; rail turnstiles do not accept cash or coins.
    • Paying on Buses – customers are asked to insert $1.00 into the farebox then show the bus operator your RTA Reduced Fare Permit. 
    • Paying at Rail Stations – use of cash as fare payment will require assistance from the CA or security guard on duty.
Fare Type
RTA Reduced Fare Permit
$0.85 – first ride
$0.85 – first ride
$0.15 for up to two (2) transfers within two hours of the first ride.
CTA Reduced Fare Transit Card
farecard payment only
No transfer issued when paying cash on buses.
*IMPORTANT: rail turnstiles do not accept cash or coins. Customers must add value to a farecard at a CTA Transit Card Vending Machine to enter through a rail station turnstile.
In order to make sure  seniors are well equipped with what they need to board CTA trains and buses, on Thursday, September 1; Friday, September 2; Tuesday, September 6 and Wednesday, September 7, information specialists will be available at select stations to assist seniors with the process of adding value to farecards. CTA information specialists will be deployed to the following locations during the hours when most seniors travel, based on CTA ridership data:
  • Blue Line: Washington, Jefferson Park, Harlem (O’Hare branch), Cumberland and O’Hare Terminal
  • Brown Line: Fullerton
  • Green Line: Clinton
  • Loop Elevated: Clark/Lake (Thompson Center), Adams/Wabash and Madison/Wabash
  • Orange Line: Midway Terminal
  • Pink Line: Polk
  • Purple Line: Davis
  • Red Line: Clark/Division, Chicago (North main entrance), Lake-Randolph, Monroe, Jackson, Roosevelt (subway main entrance), Sox-35th, 79th, 87th and 95th/Dan Ryan
Customers who have questions regarding the RTA Reduced Fare program or the Circuit Ride Free program are asked to contact the RTA Customer Service Center (8:30 a.m. to
5 p.m. weekdays) at 312-913-3110 or TTY: 312-913-3111.
For questions regarding CTA service or fares, customers are asked to contact CTA Customer Service by calling 1-888-YOUR-CTA (888-968-7282) or TTY: 1-888-CTA-TTY1 (888-282-8891) Monday through Friday 7 a.m. – 8 p.m.; or by visiting the CTA Sales Center at 567 W. Lake St., Monday through Friday 8 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.
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