Info for college students
Living in or close to Chicago for your continued education?
One of the great things about Chicago and many of its neighboring communities is that you don't need your own car to get around town, thanks to our extensive transit system with routes that provide frequent service during most hours (if not 24/7)!
Our region is made up of incredible neighborhoods full of culture and attractions, museums, places for live music, the arts, nightlife and truly amazing restaurants—and the hottest spots are almost always centered around public transit.
Moving to Chicago for school? Here are some quick tips for new residents:
- Check out our How-To Guides to learn the basics about how to buy fare, pay as you enter stations or on buses and more to get you started.
- Get familiar with common trips you might like to make. We offer a variety of maps and complete details about our services on this website, as well as easy links to trip planners to help you plan your trip.
- Learn to use apps. Mapping apps (like Google Maps and Apple Maps that come with your phone, and many you can download from your app store) offer transit directions on CTA using data we freely publish. Our Ventra app lets you see fare value, ride history and even get real-time arrival info about our buses and trains from every stop on every route.
- Don't forget about buses! It's easy to focus on the 'L' (our train system), buses go lots of places where the trains don't and are also a safe, convenient way to get around town without the hassle of parking or expense of hiring a car. We're a big transit city here and Chicagoans often use our buses just as much as they do trains!
U-Pass: Unlimited transit rides while you're in school
Lots of colleges and universities around town include public transit as a benefit for students by way of the U-Pass. If you're attending a participating institution, you'll get unlimited rides at a heavily discounted rate during semesters where you're enrolled.
Quick tips about U-Pass
- If your school doesn't offer U-Pass, contact your student services (or similar) group and ask them to get on board!
- Your U-Pass is something you pay for as part of your tuition, but the riding privileges it provides are just for you. (You can't resell your card or give it to someone for the day, though you can use it to pay for friends and family by adding money to your card and using your card to pay for their fare so long as you're traveling with them as a group.)
- U-Pass riding privileges end when the semester for which your enrollment granted you rides ends. Between terms (winter break, over the summer, etc.), you'll need to load fare value or passes and your card will work like a regular card for fare payment.