While some people have returned to CTA trains and buses as part of their daily commute, ridership is still down significantly from its pre-pandemic levels. According to a release from the CTA, an average of more than 500,000 riders are currently taking trains and buses on weekdays—that's a precipitous drop from the more than 1.5 million daily weekday riders that the system welcomed in May of 2019.
To encourage more riders to tap a Ventra card and go for a ride, the city and the CTA are introducing a trio of discounted unlimited ride passes that will be available to customers from Friday, May 28 through Labor Day (Monday, September 6). The cheaper one-, three- and seven-day passes are meant to welcome back former regular CTA riders, attract new customers and encourage existing customers to ride more often. Here's the pricing breakdown for the discounted passes:
- One-day pass: $5 (down from $10)
- Three-day pass: $15 (down from $20)
- Seven-day pass: $20 (down from $28)
You'll be able to snag the passes at the discounted prices by visiting Ventra kiosks at CTA train stations, through the Ventra app, on the Ventra website and via more than 1,000 retailers throughout the city that sell CTA passes.
Frugal public transit fans will likely realize that the discounted seven-day pass turns the CTA's $105 30-day into a pretty awful deal. You can get through most of a month with four seven-day passes, and at just $20 a pop, that's a $25 savings over purchasing the 30-day pass (though, unlike the 30-day pass, the seven-day pass does not include access to Pace buses).
"Now, as our city begins to reopen and our residents begin to restore their sense of normalcy by returning to work and in-person activities, there [CTA] services will be even more critical," Mayor Lori Lightfoot said in a statement. "This new fare promotion will not only ensure that this transition is as accessible as possible and build back the CTA's ridership, but it will also further prove that a robust transit system is essential to Chicago's social and economic recovery from this pandemic."
Whether you're planing to attend a summer music festival or head to a rooftop bar for a couple rounds of drinks, traveling via the CTA is a lot cheaper than booking an Uber or Lyft—and it just got a little more affordable.