U-Pass Fact Sheet

From February 10 to February 12, 2015, all graduate and undergraduate students at the University of Chicago will have the ability to vote on their school or division's potential participation in the CTA's U-Pass program. All students will be sent the link for voting on the morning of February 10. Below are some frequently asked questions about the U-Pass program and what its adoption would mean for students at UChicago. If you have additional questions, please contact us.

Based on the results of the 2015 referendum, the College will be participating in the U-Pass program beginning Fall 2016. For more information, check out the College's U-Pass FAQ page. 

To see the results of the vote, click here.


What is the U-Pass program?

U-Pass is a program offered by the Chicago Transit Authority in which full-time students at participating institutions receive a card that grants them unlimited rides on CTA trains and buses for a flat, quarterly fee.


How much does it cost?

U-Pass operates under a per diem system, in which participating institutions are charged a fixed amount per cardholder per day that the card is active. Under UChicago's academic calendar, this comes out to approximately $85 per quarter. However, the exact amount could depend on the active dates desired by the participating school or division.


Will the fee be covered by financial aid?

For students in the College, U-Pass would be covered as a part of financial aid packages for students receiving aid, just like any other student fee. Students in the College not receiving aid would be charged the full $85 as an additional fee, in the same manner as the student life fee. For students in graduate schools or divisions, this is an ongoing conversation that is ultimately a decision of the area Dean of Students. It is our hope that it would be covered under aid or not assessed as an additional fee but, for the purposes of this vote, it is best to assume it would be an additional fee. 


Does the entire University have to participate in the program?

No -- in fact, the School of Social Service Administration (SSA) already participates in the U-Pass program. The CTA allows for universities to opt-in to the program by school or division (e.g. Booth, SSD, or the College); however, all full-time students in participating schools or divisions must take part in the U-Pass program.


What are the benefits of the U-Pass?

Much of this depends on the particular school or division in question. Broadly, the U-Pass would make it easier and potentially cheaper for students to commute in and out of Hyde Park, whether for internships, dining, or because they live outside of Hyde Park. It would also allow for students to take more advantage of existing transit options within Hyde Park, such as the 2, 4, 6, 15 or 55 buses, relieving some pressure on the 170s during rush periods.


Does the U-Pass work during the summer?

This depends on the active dates decided upon by the school or division when they enter into the contract with the CTA, and the enrollment status of students during the summer quarter. If a student is enrolled in courses full-time during the summer  and the school or division chooses to do so, the U-Pass could be active (and as a result the fee would be assessed). Otherwise (if the school or division chooses not to include the summer quarter or students are not enrolled in classes full-time) the U-Pass card would act as a normal Ventra card, onto which the cardholder must load money in order to ride the CTA. Ultimately, this decision is up to each area Dean of Students.


Will the 170s be affected?

No -- the 170, 171, and 172 buses fulfill an important and necessary transportation need for students, faculty, staff, and community residents who need to get around Hyde Park during the day, and they would not be affected by a school or division participating in the U-Pass program.


What happens if the vote passes?

The vote is non-binding, so a vote in favor of the U-Pass will not automatically trigger participation in the program. The results for each school or division will be brought to the respective area Dean of Students for consideration. If a school or division were to choose to enroll in the program, it would likely not go into effect until the 2015-2016 school year.


Do other schools participate in the U-Pass program?

More than 40 schools in the Chicago area participate in the U-Pass program. Participating institutions include Northwestern University, DePaul University, Columbia College Chicago, Loyola University, Roosevelt University, University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) and more. For a full list, click here.


What is the text of the referendum?

The exact text may vary by school or division depending on input by the area Dean of Students, but the generic text is:

"Do you support the participation of your school or division in the Chicago Transit Authority’s U-Pass program? The U-Pass program allows cardholders unlimited rides on the CTA during the academic year for a flat, quarterly fee of approximately $85, which would be mandatory of all full-time students in participating schools or divisions. For more information about the U-Pass, or to see a list of participating institutions, click here."