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Undergraduate U-Pass Program

Northwestern University is pleased to pilot a discounted, opt-in U-Pass program with the Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) for full-time undergraduate students this Winter and Spring Quarters. Enrolling in the U-Pass program provides the user significant cost savings with unlimited access to all CTA bus and train routes throughout Evanston and Chicago (Pace bus routes are not included).

The CTA typically only allows universities to offer U-Pass if all students participate, but offered this opt-in pilot to Northwestern through Spring Quarter. We are thrilled to test this with them and hope you find it helpful. Over the summer, the CTA will decide whether to continue to offer this opt-in program, and Northwestern will do the same.

Note that the U-Pass program is different from the CTA #201 Ventra card program. Enrolling in the U-Pass program will provide you unlimited rides on the entire CTA network of bus and L trains, but there is a fee (Cost of the Program). The CTA #201 Ventra card program provides free rides only on the CTA #201 bus and there is no cost to the user. You are not eligible to participate in both programs during a quarter.

Eligibility Requirements

All full-time undergraduate students (as determined by the Office of the Registrar) are eligible for this program. You must opt-in to the program and agree to the cost. Note that some graduate schools also participate, but those programs are managed by the individual school/program and not through Transportation & Parking Services. If you are a graduate student you can find school contact information below.

Cost of the Program

The cost for the U-Pass is $102.50 for Spring Quarter, with an initial $5.00 fee for the required card. As a comparison, the cost of a 30-day pass for CTA is $75. The costs will be billed to your student account by the Office of the Registrar.

  • Spring Quarter passes are active March 24 through June 13 (Commencement day).

How to Opt-In

  • Enrollment changes for Spring Quarter has closed.

Getting Started with Your U-Pass

You must activate the card with Ventra prior to the first use by calling 1-877-450-5328. When activating your card you will need to add a 99 pre-fix to your student ID number.

If you have an existing Ventra account, add this new card to that account. If you don't have an account, create one by visiting the Ventra website, via the Ventra app or by calling 1-877-669-8368. For added convenience, download the Ventra app to monitor your account, to add transit value and passes and to get real-time arrival/departure information for CTA, Pace, and Metra from your phone.

How to Use Your U-Pass

Simply tap your card to ride the bus or train. Between program dates, the card works like a regular Ventra card. Register it online with Ventra to manage transit value to pay for rides during breaks.

How to Replace a U-Pass Card

It is important to keep your U-Pass during academic breaks. Your same card will be re-activated for each quarter you are enrolled in the program. The CTA charges a $50 replacement fee if your card is lost or stolen. If you are an undergraduate student and need a new U-Pass card please contact Graduate students needing a new card need to contact their specific school.

Important Information

  • Your U-Pass can be used only by you. Do not share your pass with anyone else or it may be confiscated by CTA. Like regular Ventra cards, you can add funds to pay the regular fare on behalf of your companions.
  • Academic break periods are not covered by the U-Pass. However, you can use your U-Pass card like a regular Ventra card to pay the regular fare for travel.
    • Winter Quarter passes are active January 3 through March 23.
    • Spring Quarter passes are active March 24 through June 13 (Commencement day).
  • The U-Pass is not eligible for free rides on Pace buses. However, you are able to purchase a Pace Campus Connection pass directly through Pace.

Graduate U-Pass Program Contacts

  • Feinberg School of Medicine – Linda Daniels (
  • School of Law – Angie Roberts (
  • Medill School of Journalism – Jaime Hermosillo (
  • School of Physical Therapy – Kisha Nelson (
  • School of Physician Assistants – Jeremiah Peterson (
  • Graduate School – Bill Artz (
  • McCormick School of Engineering & Applied Science – Brandon Kendrick (