The secret is out: Select CTA and Pace customers will test the new Ventra payment system beginning in August, the CTA announced today. All customers can begin using the Ventra card - or their own contactless bank card - in September.
Through the fall, riders will be able to use the old fare media, including CTA’s Chicago Cards, Chicago Card Plus and all CTA magnetic stripe fare cards, as well as Pace’s multi-ride passes. But these old fare cards will cease to operate by December.
Here's the rollout plan, according to the CTA news release:
- Chicago Card Plus and registered Chicago Card customers will receive notifications via email/mail of the transition to Ventra, and a few weeks later will receive their new Ventra Cards in the mail with instructions on how to activate.
- Pace will hold regional outreach events at which customers can receive information about the advantages Ventra offers and ask questions of Pace staff.
- As part of Ventra outreach efforts, mobile Ventra Buses will visit multiple Chicago and suburban events and festivals to familiarize customers with Ventra and demonstrate how to use the new fare payment system.
- Ventra launches for the first targeted group of users including Chicago Card Plus and registered Chicago Card users and students at schools participating in the U-Pass program.
- Chicago Public Schools and Chicagoland students will begin the transition to Ventra for the Fall 2013 semester.
- All CTA customers and Pace fixed route bus customers are able to use Ventra.
- Customers can obtain Ventra Cards, begin purchasing products and/or purchasing stored value at all CTA rail stations where vending machines are installed, online, by phone, at hundreds of neighborhood retailers, and the Ventra customer service center.
- Both Ventra and the existing fare systems will run in parallel, and CTA and Pace will accept both old and new fare media. Customers can begin transferring stored value balances from old media types to Ventra Cards.
Through spring 2014
- CTA and Pace customers will have an additional three months to transfer balances on old fare cards to Ventra Cards.
I haven't seen any information in the Ventra FAQs on how riders who use the transit benefit users through their employer will use the new system. I would prefer to use it via my own debit card rather than a Ventra card. But it will be great for tourists and regular riders to have the option of using their contactless bank cards to pay for fares.
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