CTA Ventra update: Status of cards linked to transit benefit

CTA customers who have the federal transit benefit tied to the Chicago Card Plus account are among the last to be transitioned to then new Ventra contactless fare payment system.

And we're getting nervous.

I am one of the small number of these CTA customers. And after getting an alarming email from a transit benefit administrator last week, I checked with the CTA to see when we'll get our cards and how the transition will take place.

It turns out that the CTA notified benefits administrators last week that they have until Oct. 25 to upload their employees’ monthly election for transit benefits to a spreadsheet that will be provided to Ventra in time for customers to have their transit benefits available on their cards for Nov. 1, according to a CTA spokesperson. From his email:

The spreadsheet is being sent out to employers shortly -- ahead of when it needs to be sent into Ventra. The spreadsheet is a one-time procedure – previously employers used a CTA web site and next month they’ll use a Ventra web site. The information and format in which they are providing their employees’ information is virtually identical to what they’ve done in the past – in other words, it’s the same thing they’ve done for years.

In the meantime, the customers who received CTA pre-tax transit benefits through their employers are expected to receive their Ventra cards around Oct. 21. Users will need to activate them so the cards are ready for use Nov. /1.

Of course, this still makes me nervous because we all those Ventra cards have been late arriving in mailboxes.
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  • Yeah, it's getting late. I have 2 CCP cards linked to my account. I assumed that the 2 cards would be mailed at the same time, given that I received 2 emails from the CTA on the same day back in September. I received the first card roughly ten days ago, but the 2nd card hasn't arrived.

    Is there any way to tell which CCP card the new Ventra card is linked to without activating it?

  • In reply to SpinyNorman:

    Why wouldn't you want to activate it?

  • In reply to jack:

    Given that the wait times have been horrendous, I was hoping to activate both cards with a single call, assuming that the numbskulls that set up the activation process allow one to activate multiple cards at the same time.

  • In reply to SpinyNorman:

    If the automated activation process works (i.e. you received all the codes), you won't be saving time.

  • In reply to SpinyNorman:

    I forgot to mention it, but someone on chicagobus.org reported that the account is marked "closed" until you do activate it.

  • In reply to jack:

    Which account, jack? The Ventra card account, or the CCP account?

  • In reply to SpinyNorman:

    Ventra account.

  • It's really odd that I got my Ventra card two weeks ago. What's not odd is that although I have a 30 day pass that is current and goes to the 20th, it wasn't linked to my Ventra card so I am paying per ride, even though I've pre-paid.

    I've cancelled my transit benefit for next month. I just don't want to give the CTA another $100 that they refuse to link to my card.

  • Dog bites man story.

    I used a station Ventra machine last night. It gave me a card for $5 and I put $20 more onto it, all with my credit card. Rode the el and returned and checked my balance because there were some reading miscues at the turnstyle. The machine said I had $15.50 remaining. Today I registered the card online. The registered account now says I have $20.50 available for transit use.

    Dog bites man.

  • In reply to wegerje:

    You are supposed to get the $5 back, which is a deposit for registration, so, dog pooped on the grass, as usual.

  • In reply to jack:

    Right. That was my point. That's why I called it a dog-bites-man story because nothing unusual happened.

  • In reply to wegerje:

    BTW, Red Eye had in 10 costumes you won't see in Chicago "Satisfied Ventra Customer," which beat out such as "Chicago baseball fan" and "Chicago 2016 Olympic judge."

  • I finally got my card activated, but I still have a $60 RTA "fare check" from our transit benefit program. Anybody know how I can get that applied to my account? Can I go to the CTA headquarters like I used to for CCP? Or do I need to go to the Ventra office? Or somewhere else?

  • You can go to Ventra Customer Service in the CTA Headquarters. If you don't want to wait in line you can try using it somewhere in the Ventra network (Most seem to be CVS and Currency Exchanges).

  • I'm the transit benefits administrator for my organization. Today I received the email from the CTA containing instructions and a data file of information for our employees who have pre-tax funds withdrawn from their paychecks. The CTA says,

    "The information and format in which they are providing their employees’ information is virtually identical to what they’ve done in the past – in other words, it’s the same thing they’ve done for years."

    Not really true. The format of the data may be what the CTA has been using internally, but it doesn't resemble anything I've seen on the transit benefits administration web site. And to make it more confusing, instead of providing the reload amounts that everyone used last time, they set everything to the default values, so I am going to have to do some research to find out how much everyone gets loaded with. This is not a big deal for 24 employees, but if we were a big company it would be a LOT of work.

    I think I have their coding system figured out. I just hope it's correct, or I will have some unhappy co-workers to deal with.

    And personally, because of a combination of factors and the timing of this stuff, the Ventra transition could cost me as much as $100 because I won't be able to use the funds on the older cards before they stop accepting them. Talk about an unhappy customer!

  • I received one of my Ventra cards yesterday. Using the info from the email I received on October 5, I had no problem getting on the site, or calling the automated system to activate the card. I logged in again after doing all this and the Ventra site now shows the balance I had on my Chicago Card Plus. The next test will be using it to get home tonight.

  • I've been talking to the co-workers whose transit benefits I manage, and most of them finally seem to have received their cards in the mail. The ones who were using the pay-per-ride system had their existing balances transferred over without problems. The question, though, is how it handles the ones who, like myself, were on the $100-a-month unlimited passes. There's no real dollar amount associated with these cards, only an expiration date--so what is there to transfer? One person said she saw $87 of the $100 transfer over, so maybe there is some amount of prorating that happens, but I can't find any information about this anywhere, certainly not on the Ventra site. It has the same old minimal information as ever. I have suspended my Chicago Card Plus reloading permanently and will make do until it expires on November 11, then use a disposable card to get me through November, at least. I'm afraid if I activate my Ventra card now that I'll lose any remaining value on my CCP card, and I still have some funds to use up on a disposable card, too.

  • In reply to ShadowRider:

    My transit benefit transferred over the day after I activated. Under Current Passes on my Ventra account page it says I have a CTA 30-day pass that expires Nov. 11. Once you activate yours should say that too.

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