The Regional Transportation Authority (RTA) will begin transitioning 550,000 Ride Free, Reduced Fare and ADA Paratransit customers to the new Ventra™ open fare payment system this summer. The RTA will issue new permits that will enable eligible seniors and people with disabilities to take advantage of Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) and Pace’s new contactless fare payment system using a single card to travel throughout the region. The Ventra system is scheduled to launch this summer.

"The RTA is excited to support enhancing the customer’s traveling experience with the new Ventra system. And we are glad to accommodate our customers’ strong preference for using a SmartCard vs. the magnetic stripe permits currently in circulation,” said Joe Costello, RTA Executive Director.  

The RTA will be issuing Reduced Fare, Ride Free and ADA Paratransit customers durable contactless permits that they will only need to tap to touch pads or turnstiles when boarding CTA buses or trains or Pace buses. The “tap” transaction will be faster than inserting cash or magnetic-stripe cards into fare equipment, which will speed boarding and improve service. Customers will be able to add CTA and Pace transit value or load a reduced fare 30-Day pass onto their permits at CTA Rail Stations, online, and at over 2,000 retail locations throughout the region. Until further notice, Reduced Fare customers riding on Metra will purchase tickets in advance from a ticket agent and then present the ticket to a Metra conductor. The Reduced Fare permit should be shown to the ticket agent at the time of purchase. A $3 surcharge applies for purchasing one-way tickets onboard Metra trains when a ticket agent is available at the boarding stations. Ride Free customers simply present their Ventra permit to the Metra conductor. ADA Paratransit riders will be able to use Ventra cards to pay for their rides on paratransit vehicles at a later date.

The RTA will mail information to existing customers this spring followed by the Ventra compatible replacement permits being mailed to the permit holder’s address at no cost this summer.  The $5 purchase fee for full fare Ventra cards will not apply to RTA permits, however the $5 dormancy fee after 18 months of non-use will apply to RTA Reduced Fare customers. The RTA urges permit holders to contact the RTA Customer Service Center at 312-913-3110 if their address has changed recently to ensure they receive the mailing and permit.

Customers should continue using their existing permits until they are notified exactly when to start using the new Ventra SmartCards.

For more information about the new Ventra system visit  Click here to learn about the RTA fare programs.

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Press Contact

With three transit systems and more than two million riders a day, there is always something interesting going on at the RTA. Get the latest scoop on everything all in one place. For all media inquiries, please contact Susan Massel, Director of Communications and Public Affairs, at 312-913-3256 or at