CTA’s Promotional Fares Help Drive Ridership Increase and Support Return to Transit

September 15, 2021

Agency sees a nearly 70 percent increase in average ridership among those who use the promotional pass

The Chicago Transit Authority’s ‘More Fun, Less Fare’ promotional pass discount proves to be hugely popular among new and returning riders, while also helping shape new travel trends supporting the agency’s ongoing efforts to steadily increase system-wide ridership.  Last month, CTA extended the fare promotion to November 25, 2021.

Since introducing the promotional discounts Memorial Day weekend, more than 10 million rides have been taken using the three types of unlimited-ride passes. The 1-Day Promotional Pass experienced the highest-percentage growth in use compared to pre-pandemic use, increasing by more than 300 percent compared to the week prior to the start of the fare promotion. Notably, 1-Day Promotional Pass growth was highly popular in low-income and minority community areas. The 3-Day and 7-Day Promotional Passes also experienced increased use. Weekly rides by customers using the 3-Day and 7-Day Promotional Passes increased by 44 percent and 75 percent, respectively, compared to May 2021.

The discounted passes have been a driving factor in helping new and existing riders save more money, and have also helped shape new travel habits. CTA analysis shows that since the start of the promotion, riders who switched from pay-per-ride to an unlimited-ride pass increased their ridership by nearly 70 percent, on average. This means that riders who switched to a promotional pass increased their ridership from 36 rides on average in the seven weeks before the promotional pass adoption to 59 rides on average in the seven weeks after. By comparison, riders who remained using only pay-per-ride rode nearly the same amount during that same time.

Pass sales also helped attract riders back to CTA and encouraged existing riders to ride more. CTA conducted an online survey on the promotional passes and found that 43 percent of respondents reported they rode a lot more with the pass and 20 percent of respondents reported that the pass got them riding CTA again.

CTA ridership has been steadily increasing since the start of the year, as riders return to transit for work and recreation. The promotional fares have played a vital role in encouraging ridership growth system-wide, which is now averaging 770,000 rides on weekdays.

The promotional pass products are a central component of the CTA’s When You’re Ready, We’re Ready campaign, a comprehensive ridership promotion effort launched in May to help attract new and returning transit riders.

The CTA is already the region’s most affordable transportation option, and the promotional fares offer even more value to customers. With the 1-Day Pass, customers can ride all day for the cost of one round-trip fare (which is $5 on trains, $4.50 on buses). The 3-Day Pass is ideal for weekend travel or employees working flexible days. And with the 7-Day Pass, customers essentially pay less than $3 per day for unlimited rides for the week and the weekend.

CTA’s promotional discount on these popular unlimited-ride passes will continue to be available through November 25. 

The promotional fares are available for purchase at Ventra Vending Machines at CTA rail stations, on the Ventra app, on the Ventra website, at over 1,000 retail locations, or by calling Ventra customer service at (877) NOW-VENTRA (669.8368).


Back to news
System status snapshot
‘L’ route status
Red Line
Normal Service
Blue Line
Normal Service
Brown Line
Normal Service
Green Line
Normal Service
Orange Line
Normal Service
Pink Line
Normal Service
Purple Line
Normal Service
Yellow Line
Normal Service
Bus routes w/alerts
Elevator alerts