The Hidden Cost of Ventra

Ventra Report Cover


  • In mid 2017, CTA implemented an online bulk order system for Ventra tickets, decreasing the administrative burden on health and human service agencies ordering bulk transit fare. Click here to say “Thanks!” to CTA on twitter.
  • On August 23, 2016, providers and advocates from the region shared this letter with the CTA President and Board.

Social service agencies in Chicago spend almost $1.5 million on Ventra cards and tickets each month. That’s because transportation assistance is a critical service they offer their participants. No one can benefit from a training, shelter, or appointment if they cannot get to it.

Service providers depend on the Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) every day to ensure that participants can access programs. However, the CTA’s Ventra fare system is costly and burdensome for social service providers who offer transit assistance to their program participants. The report “The Hidden Cost of Ventra: The Impact of the Ventra Fare System on Chicago Social Service Providers” details the ways that Ventra fails to meet the needs of providers and offers concrete solutions to promote the affordability and accessibility of transit in Chicago.

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Click here for the full report: The Hidden Cost of Ventra.


The following recommendations were identified in partnership with community based organizations from across the city. They are concrete steps to improve transit access and affordability in Chicago, and increase the effectiveness of programs in which the city and county are already invested.

  • Eliminate the $0.50 fee on paper tickets for social service providers who receive funding from city and county agencies.
  • Modernize the bulk order process with online credit card payment options and delivery tracking.
  • Ensure delivery of bulk orders within 2 weeks of order.
  • Designate high capacity Ventra vending machines that are accessible to providers across the city, allowing providers to fill immediate bulk transit needs.
  • Allow providers to disable negative balance function of cards.
  • Extend ticket expiration times.
  • Offer bulk registration of cards online, and number products sequentially to simplify the bulk registration process.
  • Allow more than one opportunity for providers to return expired tickets.

Help spread the word on Social Media!

Twitter Posts

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Facebook Posts (Share or create your own)

  • “Ventra is modern and convenient for some people, but it’s getting in the way of providers who offer transportation assistance as a crucial part of their programming. We’re asking Mayor Rahm Emanuel and the CTA to #CutTheFee and offer better bulk purchasing options for Ventra. Read more about Ventra’s burdens in the new report “The Hidden Cost of Ventra” by the Chicago Jobs Council.”
  • “Social service providers in Chicago spend over $280,000 on a single fee. If we #CutTheFee, providers will be able to offer 112,000 more rides to people looking for a job, a place to call home, or their next meal. Read more about how we can make Ventra work better for service providers and the people they serve in the new report “The Hidden Cost of Ventra” by the Chicago Jobs Council.”
  • (If your agency purchases Ventra Tickets)  “We buy [hundreds/thousands/X amount] of Ventra passes every year, but Ventra makes it hard for us to order and pay, and leaves us waiting for weeks to receive the product. That’s just bad business! The report, “The Hidden Cost of Ventra” from the Chicago Jobs Council details how Ventra is could work better for providers like us. Read it here: #CutTheFee”

The above images are also available for download to be shared/added to posts on Facebook or other social media sites.