Ventra Reader

How to: Pay for your fare

It's easy to pay your fare. On buses, you pay as you enter the bus. At train stations, you pay as you pass through the turnstiles before reaching the boarding area.

General information: Fares

Getting a farecard or ticket

You can buy a new, reloadable Ventra Card from any 'L' station or over-the-counter at hundreds of Ventra retailers all around town (drugstores, neighborhood convenience stores and gas stations, currency exchanges, etc.).

You can also instantly add fare value or passes to your card's transit account at any of these locations, plus online, in the Ventra app or even over the phone if you register your card.

Ventra Vending Machines vend new cards as well as disposable tickets meant for limited use.

See also: How to Buy FaresWhere to Buy Fares


A Ventra reader telling rider to go after touching card successfully

Paying with Ventra Cards or Ventra Tickets

Simply touch your card or ticket to the lower part of the Ventra reader on top of train station turnstiles and on buses.

When you touch your card, you'll hear a sound that indicates the card was read, and then a second sound along with a screen that tells you to "Go" or "Stop."


Tips for using your card

icon_takeventracardoutTake your card out of your wallet

Whenever you pay your fare, be sure to take your card out of your wallet.

Unlike the old system, Ventra is based on open payment standards and can accept contactless cards issued by banks for payment, too.

To avoid "card clash" or accidentally offering a different card for payment, simply take your Ventra Card out of your wallet when you board.

icon_MV-decalTouch your card directly to the reader

To make sure your card is read properly by the reader, touch it flat against the reader.


Paying for multiple riders

If you're traveling with other people, Ventra Cards can be used for up to seven people at once.

  • At train stations, each person should individually touch a Ventra Card that's being shared, and enter when indicated.
  • On buses, tell the bus driver you wish to pay for multiple people and follow his or her direction to pay (the driver will need to push a button for each additional person riding on the same card).

Note that passes only cover the first rider on your card, as needed, so be sure to load value to cover the fares of anyone else you wish to pay for. 

Learn more about how to pay for others traveling with you on the Ventra website.


Paying Full Fares with cash

If you don't have a farecard, we also accept cash and coins.

On the train

At all CTA 'L' stations, you can buy a new Ventra Card (effectively free, once registered) or disposable, Ventra Tickets using bills and coins at vending machines.

All Ventra Vending Machines also allow you to load value and unlimited ride passes to Ventra Cards with either cash or cards.

On the bus

On the bus, you can pay for a one-way fare in cash. Exact change is required (no change is given). Buses accept $1 bills and most coins (no half-dollars). Transfer is not available when paying in cash on the bus. If you need to transfer, use a Ventra Card or Ticket.


More information

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‘L’ route status
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