Chicago Transit Authority

Save dough on transportation, go on a cheap DIY tour

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The CTA offers a variety of passes that save money on train and bus fares. A 1-day pass costs $10 and is good for unlimited rides for 24 hours. If you plan to travel more than three times in a day you’ll save money (a regular ticket costs $3, except for the train from O’Hare, which costs $5). The 3-day pass costs $20; the 7-day pass costs $28.

Buy the passes in advance online, or at retail locations like CVS and Walgreens drug stores. You can also buy them on the spot at any train station.

Another option is to by a reusable Ventra Card (Ventra is the name of the CTA’s fare payment system) at any train station. It has a one-time $5 fee that gets refunded once you register the card. It knocks around 75 cents off the cost of each ride (versus buying a disposable, one-time-use Ventra Ticket that has a surcharge). You add money to the card as you go by using the fare machines at train stations. With a Ventra Card each train fare costs $2.25.

The CTA’s elevated trains (aka El trains) make for a terrific cheap sightseeing tour. The Brown Line into the Loop is especially cool.

At A Glance

1-/3-/7-day pass $10/20/28

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