Underground Train

FAQ

FAQ Categories

Military Service Pass

U-Pass

History and Facts

Procurement

Slow Zone Elimination

Questions & Answers

Military Service Pass

Am I eligible for a Military Service Pass?

You are eligible for a Military Service Pass if you qualify as:

  • Chicago area active duty military personnel and possess an Armed Forces ID Card;
  • An actively drilling member of the National Guard and Reserves who possesses an Armed Forces ID card or a member of the Coast Guard with appropriate identification.
  • A Chicago area disabled veteran who has a qualifying service-connected disability and can provide proof that: you are in receipt of United States Department of Veterans’ Affairs (USDVA) disability compensation of 10% or greater; or you are receiving military disability retirement pay in lieu of USDVA compensation at a rate of 10% or greater.

 

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What is required to confirm my eligibility?

  • For active duty military personnel, an Armed Forces ID card.
  • For disabled veterans, an official letter from the USDVA indicating eligibility for a qualifying service-connected disability payment as outlined above, along with a valid state ID card.

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How and where do I obtain my Military Service Pass?

Ventra Customer Service Center
567 W. Lake St.
Chicago, IL 60661
Hours and more information

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What if I am on active duty and in uniform?

You can ride for free and do not need to use your Military Service Pass. However, if you are on active duty but not in uniform, you must have a Military Service Pass in order to ride for free.

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How do I replace my lost, stolen or damaged MSP?

Visit the Ventra Customer Service Center or call 1-877-NOW-VENTRA (1-877-669-8368).

Ventra Customer Service Center
567 W. Lake. St.
Chicago, IL 60661
Hours and more information
 

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How do I use my Military Service Pass to get free transit?

Tap your Ventra Military Service Pass to the lower portion of the Ventra reader, which is prominent as you enter the bus and is on top of the turnstile at 'L' stations.

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I am retired from the military. Am I eligible for a Military Service Pass?

No, only active duty military personnel and disabled veterans who have a qualifying service-connected disability (as outlined above) are eligible for the Military Service Pass. If you are 65 years of age or older, you may be eligible for the RTA Senior Reduced Fare or Ride Free Program. Contact the RTA at 1-312-913-3110 or go to rtachicago.com for details.

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U-Pass

What if my U-Pass is lost or stolen?

  • If your card is lost or stolen, visit your school’s U-Pass administrator to complete a report and request a new card. A non-refundable replacement fee ($50) will be collected for a lost/stolen card.
  • If U-Pass is put into the cash slot on a bus, it is treated as lost/stolen and you'll need to pay $50.00 for a replacement.

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How often can I use my U-Pass per day?

As often as you want (you can't reuse your card at the same station or on the same bus line for 10-15 minutes). The U-Pass allows you unlimited rides on the CTA, anytime, anywhere, any reason.
 

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Can I share my U-Pass with my friends?

U-Pass is limited to exclusive use by the full-time student whose name and photo appear on the card. Any U-Pass presented by a person other than the student whose name and photo appears on it will be confiscated and the person may be subject to arrest.

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I drive--does the U-Pass have any benefits for me?

The U-Pass gives you an opportunity to get out of your car and:

  • save money - no parking, gas and car upkeep costs;
  • help save the environment - lower fuel emissions; and
  • reduce frustration - avoid traffic congestion.

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Who can I contact if I have a question about my U-Pass?

Call Ventra Customer Service at 1-877-669-8368.

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How can my school participate in the U-Pass program?

College/Universities offering U-Pass must be degree-granting, post-secondary institutions and certified by the Illinois Board of Higher Education. School must enter into a contract with the CTA.

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What happens to leftover transit value on my U-Pass from between school sessions?

The value will stay on your account for the next time you need to pay for a regular fare—such as when riding Pace (which doesn’t accept U-Pass), when riding between school sessions or traveling with a friend, or when you ride during the following break.

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Will I get a new Ventra U-Pass card with each new school term?

No—unlike the old U-Pass cards, you keep the same card throughout school. The card is good for up to five years from when it's issued.

Hold onto your card—if you throw a card away, you’ll need to pay a lost card replacement fee to get another one.
 

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Who is participating in the U-Pass program?

See the main U-Pass page for a full list of participating institutions.

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Where can I go with my U-Pass?

Anywhere the CTA's buses and trains go! Your U-Pass is good for unlimited rides on CTA.

If you're new to Chicago, here is some information that might be helpful to you.

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Where can I call for directions?

The easiest way to get directions is to plan your trip online. Use the "Plan a Trip" widget on transitchicago.com. If you have smartphone, you can get step-by-step directions from a variety of apps that use transit data from CTA, or by using Google Maps.

If you'd like to get directions by phone, you can do so by calling the RTA Travel Center at (312) 836-7000 (TTY: 312-836-4949). Operators are available daily from 5:00 a.m. - 1:00 a.m. They can also send you a CTA System Map, Downtown Sightseeing Guide or schedules. CTA Maps and Downtown Sightseeing Guides are also available at CTA train stations.

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History and Facts

When did the CTA begin operation?

The CTA began operating on October 1, 1947, after it acquired the properties of the Chicago Rapid Transit Company and the Chicago Surface Lines.

On October 1, 1952, CTA became the sole operator of Chicago transit when it purchased the Chicago Motor Coach system.

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Where is CTA Headquarters located?

The CTA headquarters is located at: 567 W Lake St Chicago, IL 60661 (312) 664-7200

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Procurement

What is a bid?

A bid is a vendor's response to a solicitation by the CTA requesting offers to provide a specific good or service.

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Does a vendor need to be pre-qualified to bid?

No, unless otherwise specified in the bid documents.

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How does a vendor become pre-qualified to bid, and how often does the vendor need to renew its pre-qualified status?

As stated above, a vendor does not necessarily need to be pre-qualified to bid.  A specific solicitation may require pre-qualification.  Regardless, vendors are encouraged to register online, which allows vendors to be added to CTA's database of vendors, which includes those commodities that the vendors are able to provide.

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Can I apply to become a CTA Vendor On-line?

Yes, you can apply to become a CTA vendor on-line by accessing CTA’s on-line vendor/DBE registration system at cta.dbesystem.com.

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Does a vendor need to pay for bid specifications?

No, CTA does not require any payments for bid specifications.

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Can bids be faxed?

Bids must be returned to the CTA in accordance with the instructions to bidders in the bid document.

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When are bids opened?

Bids are opened and read publicly at 2:00 p.m. Central Time on the date indicated in the bid document.

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What disqualifies a bid?

You should read the specification document very carefully and follow all instructions. This is the best way to keep from having your bid disqualified. In general, bids can also be disqualified for being late or missing information and/or signatures. Please note that this is not an exhaustive list of reasons for disqualification.

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When will the contract be awarded?

Contracts are awarded either following consideration and approval by the Board or in accordance with the established process for contract approval and execution for contracts that do not require Board ratification.

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Do I need to bid through a DBE?

No.

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What is a Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (DBE)?

A DBE firm is a firm which is owned and controlled by socially and economically disadvantaged individuals pursuant to 49 CFR, Part 26. More information regarding CTA's DBE program can be obtained from the DBE Department.

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Where do I find a DBE firm to use?

The Illinois Unified Certification Program publishes and maintains a Disadvantaged Business Enterprise Directory which lists all certified DBEs in the State of Illinois. A copy of this directory can be viewed on CTA's web page or you may contact the DBE Department for a copy of this directory.

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Who are approved DBE's?

Please contact the DBE department for a copy of the aforementioned Disadvantaged Business Directory.

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Can I apply and/or maintain my DBE Certification On-line?

Yes, you can apply for DBE certification, and maintain your certification if you are already certified, on-line by accessing our on-line vendor/DBE registration system at cta.dbesystem.com.

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I'm a certified DBE with the City of Chicago/the Illinois Department of Transportation/Metra/ Pace, am I also certified with CTA?

CTA is a certifying participant in the Illinois Unified Certification Program (IL UCP). All firms that are certified with the IL UCP through one of the aforementioned agencies are considered DBEs with CTA.

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What is the Illinois Unified Certification Program (IL UCP)?

The IL UCP is based on the concept of reciprocity among the participants. The certifying participants of the IL UCP are CTA, the Illinois Department of Transportation, the City of Chicago, Metra and Pace.  If a firm is approved as a DBE firm, this certification is honored by all IL UCP participants in the State of Illinois.

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How do I fill out Schedules C and D?

Please follow the directions in the bid document or contact the DBE department should you need additional assistance.

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How do I get my product approved?

CTA’s Technical Services department typically reviews and approves new products.

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Please explain the difference between purchases over and under $40,000.00?

Purchases in excess of $40,000.00 are required to be publicly advertised for bid.  Purchases that are $40,000.00 or less do not require public advertisement.

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Is everything that CTA purchases posted on the website?

No. All competitively bid procurements over $10,000.00 are posted on the CTA’s website.

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How do I reach CTA's offices?

The Chicago Transit Authority's general office is located at 567 W. Lake Street, Chicago, IL 60661. The Purchasing Department is located on the 4th Floor and the Bid Office is on the 2nd Floor.

General Office hours are from 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday.

The general office is closed on the following holidays: New Year's Day, Memorial Day, Independence Day, Labor Day, Thanksgiving Day & Christmas Day.

For a schedule of bid opening dates, refer to the Contracting Opportunities page. Bid opening dates for Supply, Services and Construction solicitations are listed along with the associated bids.

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Slow Zone Elimination

What goes into laying 'L' tracks?

Railroads typically have two rails on which trains run, and are held in place by being affixed to track "ties." Ties can be made of wood, plastic or concrete. Tie plates are affixed directly to the track ties at a precise distance, and the rails are, in turn, are affixed to the ties by the tie plates.

The 'L' (like many other rapid transit systems) also has a "third rail" off to the side of the running rails, which is how electrical power is delivered to the trains.

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Why are there slow zones on the 'L'?

Slow zones are instituted in areas where train speeds should be restricted to maintain safe travel. Commonly, this occurs in a section of track that is beyond its service life and in need of repair or replacement. Slow zones are also sometimes established temporarily in work zones over a period of ongoing construction work.

We take your safety very seriously, and continually inspect our railways for signs of deterioration. If track inspectors (or high-tech track-measuring equipment used for inspection) detect advanced wear or potential defects, a temporary slow zone may be put in place (or other, appropriate action taken), pending repair work.

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System status snapshot
‘L’ route status
Red Line
Normal Service
Brown 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