CTA Bus Transfer (1966)

I recently rediscovered this item at the botton of a desk drawer. This is a CTA transfer, circa 1966.

In those days, if you knew you needed to change from one bus line to another, you asked the driver for one of these paper transfers. That allowed you to get on the next line without having to pay another fare. When I started riding CTA during the 1950s, the transfers were free. Later, if you wanted a transfer, you had to pay an extra 5 cents, on top of your regular 25-cent fare.

There were restrictions on how a transfer could be used. You had to transfer to an intersecting bus line, you could not double back for a return trip on the same line, there was a time limit on how long before a transfer expired, and so on. However, if your journey required two or three or more changes to different bus lines, that was okay.

You could transfer to and from the ‘L’/subway, too. When you transferred from rapid transit back to surface transit, you had to validate the time by inserting the transfer into a machine at the station. The words “STAMP HERE” at the top tell you which end to insert. The machine then stamped the station name and time on the transfer.

The transfer had a city map, with major diagonal streets and ‘L’ lines included. The bus driver punched holes in the transfer to provide information.

This particular transfer was for the Montrose line. The transfer was issued at 12:10, with the punch-out in the middle of the clock indicating p.m. The rider boarded westbound, with the punch on the city map showing this was at about 1500-west. The rider then changed to another bus somewhere between Milwaukee Avenue (diagonal dash line) and Austin Avenue (6000-west)—probably Central Avenue.

Notice that there were other things that the driver could have punched out on the transfer. There was the “1/2” for half-fare riders (kids). “ND” was for Next Day, in case this was a late-night trip, when September 24 changed over into September 25. If the transfer was to be used on the Marquette route, that box would be punched, and the red route-line on the South Side of the map would be used. The OTHER box would be punched if the transfer was used on a different route from Montrose or Marquette.

Finally, that box labeled “E” was punched for Emergency. These could be just about anything—for example, if the bus had to detour away from its official route.

I have no idea why i saved this transfer. But I’m glad I did.



1 Response to “CTA Bus Transfer (1966)”

  1. 1 Katja_137 May 28, 2023 at 8:19 pm

    The paper transfers continued until about 1998, then they were replaced by those brown transfer cards, and then by the Chicago Cards, then those by Ventra, and now- I’m not even keeping track. I remember riding round-trip many times “cheating” the system. You were not allowed to ride in the opposite direction on the route you started on. So, being a broke high school kid, I’d do something like take the Western bus one stop north to North Avenue, then take the North Avenue bus east to go to Crown Books and Best Buy by North & Clybourn, then sneak in under the line to get the return west on North Avenue before my two hours was up! 🙂

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