The RTA website is overflowing with information. Check here for quick answers to some of the most commonly asked questions. If you have a suggestion for a FAQ, please contact us.
1. Who can I call to get route, schedule or fare information?
If you prefer help via telephone, please call the RTA Travel Information Center at (312) 836-7000 or TTY (hearing or speech impaired) at (312) 836-4949. Travel Center operators are available from 5 a.m. to 1 a.m. every day and are ready to help you find the best transit routes for your trip. Trip planning is also available online. Click here to plan your next trip. Schedules for individual routes can be found on the CTA, Metra and Pace web sites. Click here for links to these sites.
2. Who do I contact if I have a complaint?
We want all our passengers to enjoy their RTA experience. If you are not satisfied with a service, please register your complaint with the transit agency responsible for the service. What if there is a general RTA complaint? Is there a corporate contact number?
CTA: 1-888-YOUR-CTA (1-888-968-7282) or TTY (hearing or speech impaired): 1-888-CTATTY1 (1-888-282-8891) or by e-mail at
Metra: (312) 322-6777 or TTY (hearing or speech impaired) (312) 322-6774. Weekdays 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Pace: (847) 364-7223 or by e-mail at
3. What if I lose or damage my transit pass?
Please contact the CTA, Metra or Pace at the number listed below for assistance in replacing damaged cards. Lost or stolen cards cannot be replaced.
CTA: 1-888-YOUR-CTA (1-888-968-7282) or TTY (hearing or speech impaired) 1-888-CTATTY1 (1-888-282-8891) or by e-mail at
Metra: (312) 322-6777 or TTY (hearing or speech impaired) at (312) 322-6774. Weekdays 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Pace: (847) 364-7223 or by e-mail at
4. What is a RTA Reduced Fare Card?
The RTA offers reduced fares for persons 65 years or older, and who do not live within the six-county service region of Cook, DuPage, Kane, Lake, McHenry and Will counties, or individuals with a qualified disability. This card qualifies the holder to purchase half-fare tickets and passes from the CTA, Metra and Pace. Click here for more information on how to apply. Or contact the RTA Travel Information Center at (312) 836-7000 or TTY (hearing or speech impaired) at (312) 836-4949 to request a brochure.
5. What is ADA Paratransit service? Who can use it?
The Americans with Disabilities Act requires public transportation services be available for individuals who, due to the nature of their disabilities, are unable to use accessible trains or buses. This is called ADA Paratransit service, which is shared-ride, origin-to-destination transportation. ADA Paratransit service complements the routes traveled by regularly scheduled public transit services. For more information on ADA Paratransit service or to request an application, call the RTA ADA Paratransit Certification Helpline at 312/663-HELP (4357 voice) or 312/913-3122 (if you use a TTY).
6. What is the Transit Benefit Program? How does it work?
The RTA/CTA Transit Benefit Program is a way for employers to help their employees pay for transportation costs. The goal is to help employers take advantage of tax law changes to reduce commuting costs and the taxable income of employees. Employers can provide employees with up to $230 a month, $2,760 a year, for transit or vanpool commuting expenses as tax-free benefits in accordance with the Transportation Equity Act of the 21st Century (TEA-21) and Section 132(f) of the IRS Code.
Employers can provide this benefit through vouchers offered through the RTA/CTA Transit Benefit Program or through cash reimbursement of vanpool expenses. By taking advantage of this program, employees can reduce their taxable income and employers can reduce payroll costs. For more information about the transit benefit program, click here or call 1-800-531-2828 between 9:30 a.m. and 7:30 p.m. Central Time.
The RTA stands for the Regional Transit Authority, created in 1974 to be the funding and financial oversight agency for the public transit operators in the six-county region of northeastern Illinois. This region includes: Cook DuPage, Kane, Lake, McHenry and Will counties. The RTA is responsible for overseeing the budgets and capital programs of the Chicago Transit Authority (CTA), Metra commuter rail, and Pace suburban bus.
Other duties include ensuring that the region meets its statutory obligation to recover 50 percent of transit operating costs from fares or other income and distributes the portion of sales tax allocated to transit to the CTA, Metra and Pace. The RTA also issues bonds for the region’s transit capital projects and has one of the highest bond ratings of any transit system in the United States (Aa2 by Moody's Investor Service, AA+ by Standard & Poor's and AA by Fitch Ratings).
The mission of the RTA is to oversee transit planning efforts that have a regional scope and works with communities across the region to encourage transit-supportive development.
8. Does the RTA operate train and bus service?
No. The RTA's duties, as outlined by state law, extended only to financial oversight and planning. The CTA, Metra and Pace are the region's transit operators. They are responsible for establishing the fares, routes, schedules and all other operating issues.
However, to better coordinate services, the RTA does administer the region's reduced fare certification program, paratransit certification program and provides travel information for all the region's public transit services through its Travel Information Center and Internet trip planner.
9. What is the RTA system?
The RTA system is the network of rail and bus services serving the six-county northeastern Illinois region. As the second largest transit system in the United States, this system provides more than 2 million rides each weekday. The RTA system includes:
- The Chicago Transit Authority (CTA), which provides bus and rapid transit service generally within the city of Chicago and to 40 suburbs.
- The Commuter Rail Division (Metra), which provides commuter rail service connecting downtown Chicago with communities throughout the six-county region.
- The Suburban Bus Division (Pace), which operates fixed route bus service, paratransit and vanpool services in communities throughout the suburbs and from suburban locations to Chicago.
10. How many people use the RTA system?
With such an expansive system, many people in the Chicagoland area rely on the RTA. Nearly 2 million rides are provided by the CTA, Metra and Pace each weekday.
11. How is the RTA funded?
State law requires that the RTA recovers 50 percent of its operating costs from fares and other system-generated revenue such as advertising. The RTA's major source of non-fare box revenue is the RTA Sales Tax. The sales tax is imposed by the RTA in the six-county region of northeastern Illinois and collected by the State of Illinois. It is the equivalent of 1.25% percent on sales in Cook County and one-half of 1 percent (0.50%) in DuPage, Kane, Lake, McHenry and Will counties. Proceeds from the RTA Sales Tax are distributed to the CTA, Metra and Pace and primarily fund operating costs not recovered through the fare box.
Other funding sources include the State of Illinois, the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) and RTA interest and investment income. These sources are mostly used to fund the RTA system's capital program.
12. How is the RTA Sales Tax distributed?
The RTA retains 15 percent of the total RTA Sales Tax proceeds and passes on the remaining 85 percent to the CTA, Metra and Pace according to a statutory formula.
Under this formula, the CTA receives 100 percent of sales tax proceeds collected in the city of Chicago and 30 percent of the sales tax proceeds collected in Cook County. Metra receives 55 percent of sales tax proceeds collected in Cook County and 70 percent of the proceeds collected in DuPage, Kane, Lake, McHenry and Will counties. Pace receives 15 percent of the sales tax collected in Cook County and 30 percent of the sales tax collected in the five outlying counties.
13. How is the RTA governed?
Transit reform legislation, enacted in January 2008 expanded the RTA's Board from 13 to 16 members. These changes became effective on April 1, 2008. The new appointees will serve in five-year terms. The board is represented by the following:
- Five directors are appointed by the Mayor of Chicago (the appointee cannot be the Chairman of the Chicago Transit Authority)
- Four directors are appointed by suburban members of the Cook County Board
- One director is appointed by the President of the Cook county Board (from Suburban Cook County)
- One director is appointed by the Chairman of the DuPage County Board
- One director by the Chairman of the Lake County Board
- One director by the Will County Executive
- One director by the Chairman of the McHenry County Board
- One director by the Chairman of the Kane County Board.
The Board Chair is appointed by 11 members of the Board with at least two votes from Chicago, Suburban Cook and the collar counties.