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Fare Programs Online gains popularity among Reduced Fare and Ride Free permit applicants

October 4, 2022

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More than 19,000 applications have been submitted using the RTA’s Fare Programs Online since it launched in January 2022. The web-based customer portal allows individuals with disabilities and seniors to apply for, replace, and renew Reduced Fare and Ride Free Permits, and to replace ADA Paratransit Permits, and is the first time these services have been made available online.

The web portal is gaining in popularity with the number of monthly applications increasing almost every month since January. Now, on average, 20 percent of these applications are submitted through the online portal rather than on paper.

“The goal of Fare Programs Online was to make these free and reduced fare programs more accessible to more people,” said Michael VanDekreke, the RTA’s Director of Mobility Services. “Seniors and individuals with disabilities who rely on public transportation should have access to a seamless, convenient application process to get these vital permits. Those who prefer to mail in paper applications can still do so, but having this portal as an option opens these programs up to more individuals.”

Through August, the portal has seen 608 applications for new, renewed, or replaced Reduced Fare Permits and 3,758 Ride Free Permits from individuals with disabilities; 8,815 applications for Reduced Fare Permits and 5,680 Ride Free Permits from seniors; and 201 applications to replace ADA Paratransit Permits. Currently, replacement is the only function that ADA customers can complete through the portal. The RTA has begun planning for a paperless ADA Paratransit Permit application process; that pilot is anticipated to go live in the first quarter of 2023.

Gerard Wagner, a 71-year-old retired engineer who lives car-free by choice in the Lincoln Park neighborhood in Chicago, said in January that Fare Programs Online makes applying for his Ride Free Permit easier.

“These are great programs to begin with because it’s very helpful to seniors like me,” Wagner said. “I have a limited income now since I’m retired. And I like technology; I embrace it. I don’t have to worry about the mail not being delivered, did I put a stamp on something, that kind of thing. It’s the path of least resistance.”

Find more information on the RTA’s Fare Programs, including eligibility, and apply online at

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Tagged in: Accessibility | Equity | Pace | Ride Free | Rider Resources | RTA

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