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riding metra

New Riders

Welcome to Metra, the commuter rail system serving the Chicago area. Metra has 11 lines with 241 stations radiating from downtown Chicago to the six-county area of northeast Illinois. Trains run frequently during rush hour and about every hour during off-peak times. We created this New Riders Guide for those who are new to the Metra system or who want to get reacquainted with it.

Some Basics

Metra's website makes it quick and easy to find out which line best fits your destination and your schedule. If you don't know which line is closest to you, don't worry. Go to our System Map and click on the "Search" tab on the upper right corner of the map. Enter your location and we'll tell you which station is closest to you. If you know which line you want to use, click on the Maps and Schedules tab and select your line to bring up a schedule finder tool for that line and your selected day of travel. Schedules vary depending on the day of the week you plan to travel: weekday, Saturday or Sunday.) Sunday schedules are also in effect on New Year's Day, Memorial Day, Independence Day, Labor Day, Thanksgiving and Christmas. (The Heritage Corridor and North Central Service lines do not operate on weekends or holidays, and the SouthWest Service Line does not operate on Sundays or holidays.)

Your Fare

Metra operates a distance-based fare system consisting of twelve fare zones. Riders are charged based on the number of zones they travel through. Regular one-way fares to downtown Chicago range from $3.50 from the closest zone, Zone A, to $10.50 from the farthest, Zone M. To determine your fare, you must know your originating station, your destination, and the type of ticket you wish to buy (One-Way, 10-Ride, Monthly or Weekend). Scroll to the bottom of the Tickets page to find detailed fare information; select your line to see the full and reduced fare charts for One-Way, 10-Ride and Monthly Passes for that line and click on the "ChooseTwo Stops" box to select the start and end stations for your trip and then the orange "Go" box to see specific fare information for the ride between those stops.
 
If you prefer to speak with a Metra representative, you can call our Passenger Services Department at 312-322-6777 weekdays from 8 a.m. until 5 p.m. or the RTA Travel Information Center at 312-836-7000 on evenings and weekends. They'll be happy to answer your questions.

Purchasing Tickets

Metra offers a few different ticket options including Monthly Passes (unlimited travel among select fare zones), 10-Ride Tickets (ten, one-way rides), One-Way Tickets (a single, one-way ride), and an unlimited ride $8 Weekend Pass. Metra also has different fare programs for seniors, customers with disabilities, families, students and children. For detailed information regarding all of Metra's fare programs, please go to the Tickets page.
 
There are several ways to purchase tickets:

Website

Monthly Passes and 10-Ride Tickets can be purchased here and mailed to you.

Ticket Agents

All ticket types may be purchased at stations where a ticket agent is on duty. Cash and checks (in the amount of $10 or more) are accepted. Credit cards are also accepted at stations.

Ventra App

Buy a Metra mobile ticket directly from your smartphone with the Ventra App. Download the FREE app at the App Store and Google Play.

On The Train

One-Way Tickets can be purchased with cash on the train. However, if a ticket agent was on duty at your time of boarding, a service fee of $5 will be charged for purchasing a ticket on the train.

Senior Citizen/Disability Fares

Senior citizens 65 or older, customers with disabilities, and Medicare cardholders who have an RTA-issued Reduced Fare Permit are eligible for a reduced fare ticket. If you are enrolled in the Illinois Circuit Breaker program and have an RTA-issued Ride Free Circuit Permit, you are eligible to ride free. If you are not in possession of a RTA Reduced Fare Card you must contact the RTA to apply 312-913-3110.
 
Metra Electric customers: The credit card vending machines sell only full fare tickets. RTA Reduced Fare Permit-holders who purchase tickets can receive a rate adjustment at one of the downtown station ticket windows.

Riding the Train

Be sure to arrive at the station early so that you have time to park your car and purchase your ticket. Be advised that times listed in Metra timetables are departure times from each station, not arrival times; please plan accordingly and give yourself time to be in position on the platform. If ticket agent is not at the station when you board, you can buy a ticket on the train from a conductor without penalty or you can buy a Metra mobile ticket on your smartphone with the Ventra App. Download the FREE app at the App Store or Google Play. When the train arrives, simply get on board, find a seat and, if you have a paper ticket, place it in the metal clip in front of you. (If you are riding on the upper level, the clip is on the side of the privacy panel.) If you have a mobile ticket, show the ticket on your smartphone screen when the conductor checks for tickets. Let the conductor know it's your first time traveling aboard Metra, and they'll be happy to help you if you have any questions or concerns about your trip. Announcements are made before each stop. When you hear the message announcing the approach of your stop, pick up your ticket and any items you brought with you and head to the vestibule to disembark at your final destination. Customers who are hearing impaired may want to notify a conductor of their stop during ticket collection.

Helpful Information

  • All Metra lines are fully accessible. Most stations are also fully accessible or have partial ADA accessibility. If you are in need of assistance, you should call ahead to check the level of accessibility at the stations you plan to use, or go to the Accessibility page for a list.
  • Monthly permit and daily fee parking is available at most stations. However, Metra does not administer permit parking at most of the stations. Each municipality in which the station is located has different parking rules and regulations. For further information, see the appropriate station's section on this site.
  • We offer reduced rates for groups of 25 or more. To find out about our Group Travel call a Group Travel representative at 312-322-6772 weekdays from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Please be advised that your group's payment must be received at least two weeks prior to your trip.
We welcome your suggestions. If you have additional questions or comments about how we can further improve our service, please call or write:
 
Metra Passenger Services
312-322-6777
547 W. Jackson Boulevard, 14th Floor
Chicago IL 60661
 
Or join the conversation online at:
Like us on Facebook: Metra
Follow us on Twitter: @Metra
 
Thank you for your interest in Metra. We look forward to welcoming you aboard.
 
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