Your guide to getting around

This page provides detailed information about the contactless Ventra™ U-Pass and how to get the most out of it.

About your U-Pass

Here are the basics about how U-Pass works:

  • Your U-Pass provides you unlimited rides on the CTA during your enrollment as a full-time student in a participating institution.

    (The unlimited riding your U-Pass provides is on CTA buses and trains, only. To use your U-Pass to ride Pace buses, load transit value or passes valid for your trip on Pace.)
  • Your pass is good for up to five years (see its expiration date and hold onto it). Your card will work across multiple school terms over its life, and also works when you’re not in school as a regular Ventra Card for full fare and/or full fare passes. (You won’t get a new one with each school session or year and the cost to replace a lost/stolen U-Pass is $50.)
  • As long as you’re enrolled full-time in school, your U-Pass privileges are loaded onto your card automatically by your school and good for the length of your session.
  • Add passes and transit value for:
    • Riding CTA when school is not in session or when you do not qualify as a full-time student.
    • Riding Pace, year-round.
    • To pay for others who are traveling with you, as additional riders, on the same card. (You can bring up to six additional people with you.)


Using your U-Pass between semesters (or otherwise not in school full-time)

Your Ventra U-Pass keeps on working as a regular Ventra Card between semesters and switches back to being a U-Pass when school is back in session. Load transit value for regular fares or even passes (3-Day, 7-Day, etc.).

There’s no need to get a separate card for when you’re not attending school full-time—you just load & go! Here's how:

  • Your U-Pass card automatically switches to working like a regular Ventra Card when you’re not in session. When you use your card when school isn’t in session, regular fares and transfers are deducted. You can load value onto your card at any Ventra Vending Machine, at hundreds of Ventra Retail Locations, over the phone, or at When you’re back in school full time, U-Pass riding privileges become available again, automatically, at the start of the session.
  • Don’t throw your card away. Your card is good for four years from when it was issued—you just keep using the same card through multiple years.
  • Register your card at to manage your account online.
  • To make sure your U-Pass card's transit account doesn't accrue a negative balance, remember to load fare when you're traveling off-season. You'll be able to add transit value for regular fares or any full-fare pass online, at vending machines or over the counter at retailers.
  • You can even set up autoload to make sure you've always got at least $10 in transit value available in your Ventra transit account—this way, when the semester ends, you can be sure your card will keep you going. This is even useful during the school year, since you can use your card to pay for other riders who are traveling with you.
  • If you ride Pace, you'll need to load transit value or passes that are valid on their services before you ride. Your U-Pass riding privileges aren't valid for fare on Pace.
  • Please note: Your Ventra Transit Account must be in good standing prior to your next qualifying term for U-Pass riding privileges. Check your transit balance on (including from a mobile browser), at vending machines or by phone.

U-Pass replacement, rules and regulations

As you begin to use your U-Pass, please be aware of the following rules for being a U-Pass cardholder.

  • Handle your card carefully. There is a replacement fee if your card stops working as a result of abuse.
  • Your U-Pass is for your use only and cannot be transferred or sold. If this rule is violated, we reserve the right to confiscate the card and prohibit you from having a U-Pass for a full year, and/ or press criminal charges.
  • If your card is lost or stolen, visit your school’s U-Pass administrator to complete a report and request a new card. A non-refundable replacement fee ($50) will be collected for a lost/stolen card.
  • If your card is defective, we can replace it. The first replacement is free, though subsequent replacements will be billed back to you ($5). In order for a card to be determined defective, you will need to go the Ventra Customer Service Center at 567 W. Lake St., Chicago, IL. They'll give you a form stating that your card is defective and a 7-Day ticket. The defective card must be returned through your school. The school will order you a replacement card.


Getting the most out of your U-Pass

Getting started with your Ventra Transit Account is easy. Below are some helpful hints and details.

  • Register your Ventra U-Pass to protect purchased passes and transit value by visiting our website at or by calling 1-877-NOW-VENTRA
  • Full fare passes and transit value for the CTA and Pace can be added online, or by phone, at Ventra vending machines, and at all participating Ventra retail locations

Note: Your Ventra U-Pass permit can be used for transit only; there is no prepaid debit option available.

Participating institutions


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