In 1913, the four elevated railroad companies began allowing free transferring between the different systems in the Loop. Since then, various provisions have been made to enable free transferring between elevated and subway lines downtown.


In 1914, the four streetcar companies began operating as a unified system, the Chicago Surface Lines (CSL). Paper transfers enabled passengers to change between streetcars at no extra charge, regardless of the actual operating company. The basic transfer rules were that trips must be made over reasonably direct routes, and within a reasonable amount of time.


In 1932, CSL adopted a transfer showing a clock and a map, which was punched to insure that a trip was being made in a reasonable amount of time. The basic design continued to be used by the CTA until 1986, although the CTA simplified its transfer rules significantly in 1974.


In 1935, transfers became available between CSL and the Chicago Rapid Transit Company. And beginning in 1943, transfers were available with the Chicago Motor Coach Company.


The CTA took over CSL and the Chicago Rapid Transit Company in 1947, and in 1952 the CTA took over the Chicago Motor Coach Company. The transfer eventually evolved to incorporate the complexities of transferring between modes.

CTA TRANSFERS (1974-1986)

In 1974, the CTA simplified its transfer rules considerably. Transfers could be used anywhere within an hour. After an hour, the transfers could be used over reasonably direct routes.

In 1976, the newly formed Regional Transportation Authority implemented transfer privileges between the CTA and the suburban bus systems, which eventually became known as Pace. CTA transfers would be accepted on suburban buses, and suburban transfers could be traded for CTA transfers once on CTA. This made it practical to discontinue most of the suburban bus routes operating all the way into downtown Chicago. Suburban bus routes were changed to feed into rapid transit stations, where a one fare ride became possible.

CTA TRANSFERS (1986-1997)

The CTA transfer with the clock and map was finally replaced in 1986. Too much fraud was taking place, with people passing transfers to others. So the CTA adopted new transfers and transfer regulations.

TRANSFER CARDS (1995-2006)

Between 1995 and 1997, the CTA replaced paper transfers with new "Transfer Cards", with a magnetic stripe. Transfer Cards were eliminated in 2006, as the CTA encouraged riders to instead use the available stored value cards.