Flora Massah



Redesigning public transit fare machines for greater clarity and understanding.

*An exploratory class project, not officially affiliated with the CTA or Ventra

Ventra is the official fare payment system for CTA, Pace and Metra transit rides in Chicago. The fare system was adopted nearly a decade ago and it was intended to make traveling around the Chicago area more convenient and efficient. However the current Ventra fare machines stationed throughout the transit platforms are impeding this goal.

The information presented on the machines is dense, repetitive at times, and difficult to follow. Customers are often left wondering what is the best fare option for their needs, and more commonly disregard the panel as the information presented is too overwhelming and unclear. The machine itself is also not intuitive to use.

Rather than helping customers learn about and purchase various fare options, the current Ventra fare machines produce confusion and doubt. Through a redesign of the visual interface, the machines can be transformed to a useful source of information for customers – aligning with Ventra’s goals of convenience and efficiency.


The project began with a site visit to an urban CTA station, observing how people interacted with the ticketing machines, and interviewing CTA employees on their experiences. The major theme that emerged was that the information on the machines is too dense and customers often struggle to understand what fare option is the right fit for their specific circumstance. 

The redesign aims to provide a more seamless experience interacting with the fare machine. The primary objective is clarity, where the customer can easily understand what the machine can be used for, and quickly comprehend which options best suit their needs.

In addressing these objectives, my approach was to take a macro-to-micro perspective. The goal is that from far away, customers can ascertain basic information such as the purpose of the Ventra machine. As they move closer, the essential categories of information become apparent, such as payment options and fare information. Based on what option is relevant to them, they can then read further details if desired. This at-a-glance structure was achieved through visual hierarchy using text size, style, and color. 

Additionally, to improve scannability of the content, information has been clustered by groups to reduce confusion, such as combining the information regarding Ventra tickets & CTA tickets so that it is clear these are not separate items. Icons, photos, and other graphic elements were used to help the customer find the relevant information throughout the process, and reduce visual clutter. Color and shapes integrate the three panels together, where overlapping elements show a continuation. These elements also help guide the customer as they interact with the machine, as the progression from lighter to darker shades and strong diagonal lines point to the next steps in the process.

In-Context Photo

In-Context Photo

Redesigned Information Panel

Description text underneath an image