The rollout for the CTA's new Ventra card fare-payment system begins in earnest this month. Here's what you need to know and do to get on board.
- Beginning Sept. 9, you can get a Ventra card free - $5 fee waived - either online at ventrachicago.com, by calling (877) NOW VENTRA (877.669.8368) or in person at the Ventra Customer Service Center at 165 N. Jefferson St., next to CTA headquarters.
- Also starting Sept. 9, you can buy a Ventra card from rail station vending machines or at hundreds of Ventra retail locations. If you register the card online or by phone (see above), the $5 fee will be immediately refunded as stored transit value on the card.
- Spend down the balance on your current fare cards. And the CTA will help customers transfer value to their new Ventra card from a number of fare media at many locations starting Sept. 17. See the end of this release for dates and locations.
Here are some other important dates to plan your own transition to Ventra.
- Ventra is available to all CTA and Pace customers.
- This is the last date that Chicago Card, Chicago Card Plus and magnetic stripe fare cards will be sold online via CTA’s website.
- Chicago Card and Chicago Card Plus will no longer be able to have value loaded on to them, either online or at CTA rail station vending machines.
- Rail station vending machines will no longer sell magnetic striped stored value cards or period passes.
- Pace offers a new 30-day premium pass for customers using Ventra.
During September and October
- Transition to Ventra cards continues for transit benefits customers.
- Chicago Card and Chicago Card Plus will no longer be accepted on CTA buses and trains, nor on Pace buses.
- Customers will no longer be able to add value to stored value magnetic stripe cards. They will need to spend down balances or transfer their existing balances to Ventra cards.
- CTA and Pace will no longer sell magnetic stripe period passes. Customers need to use up existing passes by Dec. 15.
- The CTA and Pace will no longer accept any magnetic stripe fare cards.
- Ventra replaces all CTA and Pace existing fare media.
As I've noted before, there will be glitches. Why? Because human beings created this new system and humans make mistakes. Be patient. Report problems right away to the CTA (1.888.968.7282).