CTA riders have three-and-a-half months to get a Ventra card and begin using it. The CTA announced Friday that on July 1 only Ventra cards will be accepted for fare payment. Of course, bus riders will still be able to pay with cash, but forget about the magnetic stripe cards and the Chicago Cards.
Here's the transition timetable, in three phases:
- May 1: Customers can no longer buy magnetic stripe cards or autoload/reload Chicago Card/Chicago Card Plus
- June 1: Customers can no longer reload magnetic stripe cards or use Chicago Card/Chicago Card Plus
- July 1: Customers can no longer use magnetic stripe cards. Pace customers paying with cash will no longer be issued a Transfer Card. All customers will be transitioned to Ventra.
After halting what was a failing transition to the Ventra fare-payment system in early November, the CTA now feels confident enough in Cubic Transportation Systems to continue with the final transition. Cubic, which is getting nearly half-a-billion dollars to the roll out Ventra card.
Specifically, Cubic has improved Ventra tap times and customer service.
Chicago Card Plus customers enrolled in the CTA’s Transit Benefits through their employers and O’Hare employees using the temporary O’Hare smart card are transitioning the first week of April, and will receive specific instructions through their employers.
CTA plans some "balance-transfer events" to help customers move balances on old fare media to the Ventra card. These events will also assist customers who have been issued Reduced Fare and Ride Free Permits by the Regional Transportation Authority (RTA).
Balance transfer customers may bring a maximum of five eligible fare media cards with a combined minimum of $5 in transit value. Fare media that is eligible for balance transfers includes CTA and Pace stored value magnetic stripe full-fare and reduced-fare cards and Chicago Cards. Unlimited ride 1-day, 3-day, 7-day and 30-day passes, reduced fare passes, and passes sold in bulk or any expired fare media cannot be transferred to Ventra cards and must be used up. RTA reduced-fare permit holders must bring in new Ventra RTA reduced-fare permit for balance transfer.
Pace will announce a series of Ventra Card distribution events to be held at transit centers and key suburban transfer locations at which customers can receive a free Ventra Card (with in-person registration) and have their questions answered.