CTA, Metra, Pace may soon offer a combined day pass

Metra’s board of directors on Wednesday approved a pilot program for a Regional Day Pass, which would offer unlimited rides on the three systems on a given day.

SHARE CTA, Metra, Pace may soon offer a combined day pass
A Ventra card reader on a Chicago Transit Authority bus.

Metra, Pace and the Chicago Transit Authority are working to offer a universal day pass via the Ventra app.

Sun-Times file

A new day pass may soon be available to Chicago commuters for access across the Chicago Transit Authority, Metra and Pace.

Metra’s board of directors on Wednesday approved a pilot program for a Regional Day Pass, which would offer unlimited rides on the three systems on a given day.

The day pass will be $10 on the weekend and between $10 and $16 on weekdays, depending on the number of Metra zones traveled, according to the agreement. That’s slightly cheaper than the current combined price of separate day passes, which range from $12 to $18.50 on weekdays and $12 on weekends.

The new pass comes as the three agencies face a potential combined $760 million funding shortfall in 2026 when federal pandemic grants expire. State legislators are considering a bill to combine the three agencies in exchange for over $1 billion in funding to keep them afloat.

It’s unclear when the day passes will be available. The agreement still needs approval by CTA and Pace, which will vote on the measure at their board meetings later in June. If approved, the pilot program will run for six months.

The Regional Day Pass will be sold through the Ventra mobile app. Each pass expires at 3 a.m. the day after purchase.

The new pass was praised by Joe Schwieterman, DePaul University professor and veteran researcher on transportation issues.

“This is precisely the kind of change the public is eagerly awaiting to see — to be able to hop between buses and trains around the region without buying separate tickets,” he said.

Schwieterman said the agencies have been working more assertively toward reinventing themselves. Their conversations in Springfield, amid talk of combining agencies, show that, he said.

“This fare innovation is a lot easier than service integration,” Schwieterman said.

The day pass is similar to the combined monthly pass that’s been around since 2022. Schwieterman said he hopes the agencies eventually offer a combined one-way pass.

The Regional Transit Authority agreed to cover up to $1 million in lost revenue to the agencies during the pilot, covering what they would have charged for separate day passes, according to the agreement.

The RTA, in a statement, called the agreement a “major step forward for integrating fare policies and products between the region’s transit agencies” as they address changing post-pandemic travel patterns.

The agencies are still struggling to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic, which decimated revenue as ridership plummeted. Earlier this year, Metra overhauled its fare structure to attract riders as fewer people commute to the Loop and more riders travel during off-peak hours.

The Latest
She treats her grown son like he’s the more mature one.
Addressing the nation about two hours after the shooting, Biden said he was relieved that Trump is reportedly “doing well.” “We cannot allow this to be happening,” Biden said. He pledged to update the public later Saturday.
Her future in Chicago was in question when coach Teresa Weatherspoon removed her from the starting lineup June 16.
They don’t take enough shots from long range, and the Liberty exploit them with the pick-and-roll.