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Travel Tips

The Regional Transportation Authority (RTA) operates and maintains an online travel information system for the commuters and visitors of the six-county metropolitan Chicago region. Available at www.goroo.com for both desktop computers and mobile devices, the system is a comprehensive decision support tool for choosing travel options that incorporate convenience, efficiency, and cost.

RTA Trip Planner at a Glance

  • Provides trip directions using transit (CTA, Metra, and Pace), driving, walking, biking, or any combination of these transportation options. The directions include a weather forecast for the travel day, as well as cost savings and air quality benefits of choosing transit.
  • Provides real-time estimates of when a CTA train, CTA bus, Metra train, or Pace bus is arriving at a stop or station. This capability involves the integration with the CTA Train Tracker and Bus Tracker, Metra Rail-Time Tracker, and Pace Bus Tracker systems.
  • Offers personal e-mail and text travel alerts to inform commuters of real-time transit and highway conditions (delays and incidents, construction detours, bus reroutes, and station elevator outages) that may impact their commutes
  • Displays up-to-date schedule information, as stop-to-stop or as full route schedules, of CTA, Metra, and Pace services
  • Presents destination information on attractions and events that are happening in the region
  • The RTA Trip Planner mobile site can be accessed through the web browser of any internet-enabled smart phone, including devices powered by Apple's iOS, Google's Android, and Microsoft's Windows Phone software.
  • Available in English, Spanish, and Polish languages
  • Optimized for web accessibility by the visibility-impaired and disabled community
  • Accommodates customers' travel preferences, such as mode choice, walking distance, travel time, least cost, and wheelchair accessibility
  • Receives close to 500,000 visits a month
  • Provides over 3.1 million pages of travel information a month
  • Developed by the RTA with $1.08 million grant funding from the Federal Transit Administration

Riding CTA Buses and Trains

CTA Bus Stop 29 State

Buses

Over 140 bus routes lace the City of Chicago, CTA buses stop at posted signs, similar to the one pictured. These signs show the numbers, names and descriptions of routes which stop there, and sometimes the direction of travel.

The destination sign above the bus windshield shows the route number, route name, and destination. If it's the bus you want, remain on the curb and raise your arm to indicate to the operator that you intend to board.

Pay your exact fare into the fare box, purchase a reloadable Ventra™ Card or use a personal contactless bankcard. Simply tap your card on the reader and board the bus.

Trains

Today's 'L' system has eight rapid transit routes and consists of 145 stations. At station entrances, signs (usually overhead) list the train routes serving that station. Purchase a Ventra™ Card from the vending machine or use your contactless bank card at the turnstile to pay your fare. When a train arrives, look at the destination shown on the front and side signs, and decide whether to board. Please let exiting passengers leave the train before you board.

Aboard trains, maps are displayed above doorways. Stops and connections are announced at each stop. For more information about CTA visit their website at www.transitchicago.com.

Unattended Stations: Use your Ventra™ Card or contactless bank cards at auxiliary entrances to stations equipped with turnstiles or high barrier gates. On the platform overhead signs show train destinations, matching the signs on the end and side of train cars.

Riding Metra Trains

Metra Sign

In Chicago neighborhoods and the suburbs, signs similar to the one shown here point the way to nearby Metra stations.

When the train arrives, simply get on board, find a seat and place your ticket in the metal clip in front of you. (If you are riding on the upper level, the clip is on the side of the privacy panel.) Let the conductor know it's your first time traveling aboard Metra, and they'll be happy to help you if you have any questions or concerns about your trip. Announcements are made before each stop. When you hear the message announcing the approach of your stop, pick up your ticket and any items you brought with you and head to the door to exit at your final destination. Customers who are hearing impaired may want to notify a conductor of their stop during ticket collection. For more information about Metra services visit their website at metrarail.com.

Riding Pace Buses

Pace Sign

The destination sign above the bus windshield shows the route number, route name, and destination. Pace bus stops are marked with signs similar to the one pictured here. In Chicago, drivers will only stop at these marked stops. On many routes in the suburbs, a Pace bus will stop at any safe location along the route - just signal (or flag) the driver to indicate that you want to board.

Pay your exact fare into the fare box, purchase a reloadable Ventra™ Card or use a personal contactless bankcard. Simply tap your card on the reader and board the bus.

For more information about Pace Bus services visit their website at www.pacebus.com.

Paying for Your Ride

Ventra™ is the CTA and Pace's fare payment system, which makes it faster and easier to board and pay. Ventra™ Transit Accounts can be loaded with value and passes using cash, coins or bank cards at any vending machine. You can buy new Ventra™ Cards and disposable Single-Ride or 1-Day Tickets from every vending machine. You can load transit value (for regular fares) or passes onto Ventra™ Cards and contactless bankcards if they have this symbol.

In addition to Ventra™ retailers, you can also add value with credit/debit cards online and by phone. Find a Ventra™ retailer near you.

Metra calculates fare on distance, using a zone system. Check your zone on Metra's website to calculate the cost of your trip. You can buy a pass at Metra station ticket booths, or just enter a train and pay the conductor for your fare (for an extra $3 service charge, except from a station at which no ticket agent or vending machine is available).

CTA and Pace

Cash is accepted on buses, no transfers are issued when paying in cash.

Full Fare Reduced Fare** Cash Fare Cash Reduced**
CTA 'L' train fare $2.25* $1.10 $2.25* $1.10
CTA Bus fare $2.00 $1.00 $2.25 $1.10
Pace Bus fare $1.75 $0.85 $1.75 $0.85
Pace Premium Bus Fare $4.00 $2.00 $4.00 $2.00
CTA and Pace Transfers
Up to two additional rides within two hours
$0.25 $0.15

*Load cash at 'L' stations onto a Ventra™ Card, personal contactless bankcard, or buy a Single-Ride ticket. Single-Ride Ventra™ Tickets cost $3, which includes a $2.25 train fare + 25¢ (for up to 2 transfers within 2 hours) + 50¢ limited-use media fee. Buy new Ventra™ Cards or Tickets at any Ventra™ Vending Machine. A special $5 fare applies when boarding the CTA Blue Line at O'Hare paying transit value or buying a Single-Ride Ticket (the special fare does not apply when using a pass to ride).

** Passengers with RTA-issued Reduced Fare permits and children ages 7 to 11. Children under 7 ride free with a fare-paying customer. Call the RTA at 312-913-3110 for more information about RTA Reduced Fare permits.

Metra

Metra fares are based on distance traveled. The fare schedule below is for fares based on travel to/from downtown Chicago (Zone A).

A B C D E F
One-way $3.25 $3.50 $4.75 $5.50 $6.00 $6.50
One-way reduced* $1.50 $1.75 $2.25 $2.75 $3.00 $3.25
Ten-Ride $29.25 $31.50 $42.75 $49.50 $54.00 $58.50
Ten-Ride reduced* $13.50 $15.75 $20.25 $24.75 $27.00 $29.25
G H I J K M
One-way $7.00 $7.50 $8.25 $8.75 $9.25 $10.25
One-way reduced* $3.50 $3.75 $4.00 $4.25 $4.50 $5.00
Ten-Ride $63.00 $67.50 $74.25 $78.75 $83.25 $92.25
Ten-Ride reduced* $31.50 $33.75 $36.00 $38.25 $40.50 $45.00

* Available only to riders with RTA-issued Reduced Fare permits.

Children

Children pay reduced fares on CTA, Metra and Pace based on their age. Children under the age of 7 are not permitted to travel without a fare paying customer.

Ages 7-11 Under 7
CTA Reduced Fare Free with fare-paying customer
Pace Reduced Fare Free with fare-paying adult*
Metra Half Fare Free with fare-paying adult**

* Up to two children free per adult.
** Up to three children free per adult.

Students

CTA operates the Student Reduced Fare programs for children ages 7-20 with a valid CTA Student Riding Permit. The fares are valid on school days between 5:30 a.m. and 8:30 p.m. Students obtain permits through their schools or on the CTA website.

Pace student reduced fares are valid weekdays from 5:30 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. for grade school or high school student travel to and from school activities. Students can ride fixed route buses at a reduced fare during school hours when they use the transit value in their Ventra™ account. Students paying cash can ride at a reduced fare when a valid school ID is presented.

Pace provides the Campus Connection Pass for college students. This pass is valid for unlimited rides on Pace regular fixed route buses and Call-n-Rides every day of the week at any time of the day.

Additional Pace student fare information is available on the Pace website.

Metra allows full-time students enrolled in an accredited grade school or high school to purchase a reduced one-way, 10-ride or monthly pass. Tickets are valid daily between 5:30 a.m. and 10:00 p.m. Information on purchasing student tickets is available on the Metra website.

CTA and Pace Passes

Passes offer unlimited rides on CTA and/or Pace when activated with first use. Loaded onto a transit account or contactless bankcard.

Passes Full Reduced*
1-Day CTA Pass $10
3-Day CTA Pass $20
7-Day CTA Pass $28
7-Day CTA/Pace Pass $33
30-Day Pace Pass $60 $30
30-Day Pace Premium Pass $140 $70
30-Day CTA/Pace Pass $100 $50

* Available only to riders with RTA-issued Reduced Fare permits.
Visit www.transitchicago/fares/ for CTA fare details.
Visit www.pacebus.com/sub/schedules/fare_information.asp for Pace fare details.

Metra Passes

Metra offers Monthly Unlimited Ride Passes. The schedule below is for price of a monthly pass based on travel to/from downtown Chicago (Zone A).

Zone A B C D E F
Monthly $92.75 $99.75 $135.50 $156.75 $171.00 $185.25
Reduced monthly* $52.50 $61.25 $78.75 $96.25 $105.00 $113.75
Zone G H I J K M
Monthly $199.50 $213.75 $235.25 $249.50 $263.75 $292.25
Reduced monthly* $122.50 $131.25 $140.00 $148.75 $157.50 $175.00

* Available only to riders with RTA-issued Reduced Fare permits.

Metra Weekend Pass

Metra offers a $8 Weekend Pass for unlimited rides on both Saturday and Sunday. Not valid for travel on the South Shore (NICTD).

Metra Connecting Services Passes

Metra montly pass holders can purchase passes to travel on connecting CTA and Pace services. Visit www.metrarail.com for more information.

Pass Service Use Cost**
Link-Up CTA and Pace $55.00
PlusBus Pace $30.00

** Connecting Services Passes are only available with the purchase of Metra Monthly Pass.

NICTD (South Shore Line)

South Shore Line fares are based on distance traveled. There are four basic ticket types: One-Way, 10-Ride, 25-Ride, and Monthly tickets. Reduced Fares are available for Senior Citizens and Customers with Disabilities. Please note that Metra Tickets and Passes are not valid on South Shore Line trains. Visit www.nictd.com for NICTD fare options and details.

Accessibility

Accessibility

Chicagoland public transportation provides a high degree of accessibility to persons with disabilities. All CTA, Metra and Pace vehicles and most stations are fully accessible. Lifts and ramps on buses are available for use by anyone upon request. The Regional Transportation Authority offers a training program for those who wish to learn how to ride our world class transit system.

Service Animals

Persons with disabilities who use service animals are allowed to board with their service animals. A service animal is an animal that has been trained to perform a specific task for a person with a disability. For more information on accessible services by carrier, including lists of accessible stations, click one of the following logos:

  • Chicago Transit Authority
  • Metra
  • Pace

Bikes on Transit

Bikes on Transit

CTA and Pace Buses

CTA and Pace provide bus service throughout the Chicagoland region. Bicycles are welcome and ride free on front-loaded bus racks at all times with a paying customer.

  • Buses carry only two bicycles – first-come, first-served basis.
  • Bicyclists load their own bike. When exiting, remind the driver that you need to unload your bike.
  • Folding bikes are permitted onboard.

CTA Trains

Bicycles are permitted on CTA trains every day except during weekday rush periods (7 a.m. to 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. to 6 p.m.). Bicycles are not allowed on certain days when trains are expected to become very crowded, such as July 4, or otherwise when trains have become full/crowded. Please follow station or train crew instructions.

  • Bicycles ride free.
  • Ask CTA staff to open the accessible gate to enter the station.
  • Only two bicycles are allowed per rail car.
  • Folding bikes are permitted onboard the train.
  • Bike racks are at or outside most CTA 'L' stations.

Metra Trains

Bicycles are permitted on weekday trains arriving in Chicago before 6:31 a.m. and after 9:30 a.m. and leaving Chicago before 3:00 p.m. and after 7:00 p.m. and on all weekend trains with exceptions.* Small folding bicycles in protective covers are permitted on all trains.

  • No additional fee for bikes.
  • Three (3) bicycles are permitted in the priority seating area of each accessible diesel rail car – two in each electric rail car.

Accessible cars are indicated by wheelchair image next to the door – Standard bicycles will be accommodated on a first-come, first-served basis.

  • Bring a bungee cord to secure your bicycle to the lower rail of the folding seats in the accessible seating area.
  • Train crew will make final decisions regarding the ability to accommodate bicycles on each train.

*As a reminder, Metra reserves the right to prohibit bicycles if coaches are crowded or access is impeded, and makes no assurances that space will be available for bicycles.

South Shore

For safety reasons bicycles are prohibited except folding or disassembled bicycles carried onboard in a bag or container expressly designed for such purposes and safely stowed in the overhead luggage racks.

Amtrak

Bicycles must be checked as luggage on Amtrak trains, with the exception of local trains on routes between Chicago and Galesburg-Quincy; Chicago and Springfield-St Louis and between Chicago and Champaign-Carbondale. On these trains, passengers may carry their bicycles onboard and tie them down. Reservations are required. There is a $10 fee and space is limited. In Illinois you can take bikes on the Illini, Saluki, Lincoln Service, Illinois Zephyr and Carl Sandberg.