First CTA Ventra card transition deadline looms on May 1

All of you Ventra holdouts now have just over a week to load up buy your magnetic stripe cards or load value on your Chicago Cards.

New CTA Ventra readerThat's because on May 1, you won't be able to do so.

That's the first big Ventra transition date. On May 1:

  • CTA customers will no longer be able to buy magnetic stripe fare cards.
  • Customers will no longer be able to autoload/reload Chicago Card/Chicago Card Plus.

The CTA reports that the Ventra holdouts are among a small minority now. Currently, 84 percent of all CTA rides and 60 percent of Pace rides are taken with Ventra. There have been more than 153 million Ventra taps across the CTA and Pace systems. CTA and Pace will complete the full transition to Ventra on July 1.

The next major deadline in the Ventra transition is June 1, when customers can no longer reload magnetic stripe cards or use Chicago Card/Chicago Card Plus. And then on July 1, that's it - Ventra card only or cash, which is only accepted on buses.

Come on, give it up guys. Ventra really is not that bad once you get it activated.


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  • Yes it is bad.
    It causes delays when the reader tells you to try again & again. That's really bad at L stations, when certain readers always reject my Ventra card, but the one next to it works every time.
    The L stations are supposed to be hard wired to Ventra, not cellular like the buses.
    There should never be a card reading error at a station.

  • I agree with Scooter. The reader error rate is very poor - at least once a week I have to swipe five+ times before it reads. That never happened to me while using Chicago Cards or magnetic stripe cards. That's not progress.

  • In reply to johnpseudonym:

    Sorry to hear about your bad experiences. I really haven't seen that lately, but I don't use buses too much.

    My point remains - it's the system we have, so you better switch now or soon you won't be able to ride it.

  • In reply to Kevin O’Neil:

    "My point remains - it's the system we have, so you better switch now or soon you won't be able to ride it."

    If that's the case, it seems more like Claypool's problem than ours, sort of the same as what Brian and Tammy were saying for the two days the last time the TVMs were shut down.

    There's always unregulated Lyft and Uber as an alternative.

    I don't know what real business could survive with such contempt for the patrons.

  • In reply to Kevin O’Neil:

    I am using a Ventra card because that's the way things will be from now on. But it's not going to keep me from complaining about how awful this system is though.

    Prior to Ventra, I never had problems with my card being read. I was never double-charged for a ride. I never experienced system-wide blackouts that prevented the CTA from charging customers during rush hour. Twice. And prior to Ventra, I was able to see my card balance whenever I boarded a bus or train.

    The only new thing the Ventra card has introduced is predatory lending practices if you're foolish enough to sign up for that credit/debit card option.

    Let's be brutally honest. Since Ventra's introduction mass transit in the city has gone downhill in terms of both product function and customer service. Nothing has improved, everything is degrading. That's disturbing for a city that actually believes it is world class.

  • Ventra is the worst. And now the bus drivers are started to ask people to pay cash if they can't get their Ventra cards to work.

  • In reply to Cheryl:

    Pay twice? Drivers must be out of their frickin' minds!!! If Ventra cards don't work, that's not on the passenger, that's on the CTA. They wanted us to use this system. I haven't had any problems lately, so I feel for you, ScooterL and johnp. It's really annoying when you're standing there, and the damn cards don't work. Do NOT pay double to the CTA!!!

  • In reply to mulder42:

    It would be pay twice only if the Ventra card was being used as a pass. However, it is still a screw job since I assume that the drivers are demanding $2.25 and not issuing transfers.

    This makes me wonder whether CTA Tattler posters are seeing occurrences outside the norm, or Cubic is just providing fictitious statistics in an attempt to get paid. You know where my bet is.

  • In reply to mulder42:

    In fact, there would be a way to verify the answer to my question. CTA claimed they used the stuff like the bus cameras to determine how much Cubic owed it for uncollected fares. If CTA cared, they could use the cameras to see if passengers were having prolonged dialogs with the drivers, or just tapped and moved on.

  • In reply to mulder42:

    I know. I have a pass. When my Ventra card doesn't work, I will not be forking out cash. I just stand there and keep trying it until the driver gives up and lets me on. Someday I am probably going to end up being hauled off the bus by the police because I will not pay cash for a fare I have already paid.

  • In reply to Cheryl:

    I wish this thing had an edit button. I don't think it's the drivers who have decided this--I think this is something someone at the CTA directed them to do. Before it was (generally) you tap it 3 times, if it still didn't work, the driver told you to take a seat. Now it seems more of them want to see that Go screen before they'll let you move on.

  • In reply to Cheryl:

    Sadly, the system was designed in such a way that the driver is given no indication as to the source of the problem. Is the card set up as pay-as-you-go with zero balance? Is it set up with a monthly pass, but the auto-reload function is not enabled? No idea.

    I have to imagine at this point that scammers have figured out that they can get a card with a minimum balance, use up the balance, and then continue to use the card by social engineering the driver.

  • In reply to Cheryl:

    Trust me, if the drivers had it our way, we would let you sit down after the first two times. Here's the deal. We aren't trying to make you pay, but, you really have no idea how much CTA has pitted us against the public. We as drivers are mandated that if the cards read " Insufficient Fare" after tapping twice, CTA told us as drivers that we are to request a cash fare. I promise you this is not our doing. You think you are stressed about this (trust me, I understand that and you should be)? We are even more stressed about this system because they have spotters riding watching us and if we don't do this, we get called into the office for an automatic write up that we cannot fight if we don't follow CTA's procedures about this Ventra. Five and we have lost our jobs. No exaggeration. We have lost operators because of this. Please understand it is not us. We can't do a damn thing about it either. A majority of us feel bad for the customers because we know, but, CTA is the one creating these rules and set us up to come to the forefront to look like a bunch of jackasses over this VENTRA system. For obvious reasons, I cannot reveal my true identity, but, I am a driver and I need my job. It sucks for everybody. Now, I have seen some of my coworkers be assholes about it, but, the majority of us do understand, so when we are requesting cash fares, we're not disputing you, per se, we are trying to save our jobs. I would say more, but, Im frustrated for you all as well as myself and Im just trying to earn a living.

  • Today I tapped my Ventra card at the el station, and the screen said Go, so I walked in and walked straight into the turnstyle bar. There was no indication it didn't work or anything. I tried to tap again, but since I have a monthly pass, it didn't let me tap again. I checked on-line and it did register the use at the station. This has happened to me a couple times before. Very frustrating!!!

  • In reply to joeconey:

    I really hate to say it, but you should keep a bare minimum cash balance (e.g. $3.00) on the account, in addition to the monthly pass. A 2nd tap would charge the account, and let you through the gate. This has happened to me twice. I then called customer service, and they credited my account for the "double tap".

    Yeah, it sucks, but at least I'm not stranded at the turnstile, and the customer service agents had had no problems issuing the credit.

  • In reply to SpinyNorman:

    Remind me, was this addressed in the performance goals CTA management set for Cubic after they woke up from being asleep on the job?

    It wasn't? Then it doesn't count as a problem. All the problems were fixed!

  • In reply to CCWriter:

    There was the "tap within 2.5 seconds" metric. See, for example, this Press release and attached .pdf.

    However, there was the debate here whether that metric took into account having to tap 5 times to get "go" within 2.5 seconds of the last tap.

  • I rode four different buses today on four different routes [36, then 151, then 92, then 22.
    About half the people had to triple tap or even more than that with their Ventra cards today on all four buses.
    This might have been the worst I've seen it since this idiocy was inflicted on Chicago.

  • In reply to ScooterLibbby:

    Wow, three times. It must be the readers on the buses that are hinky. Ventra wants them to malfunction so they can get more of your hard-earned cash. :sarcasm:

  • In reply to mulder42:

    I'm guessing it's the spotty cellular coverage.I'm curious which carrier they use.

  • In reply to SpinyNorman:

    I doubt that it is so much the carrier as inherent reception problems, especially in downtown "canyons." Something like Bus Tracker requires contact about once a minute, while here a transaction is supposed to be processed within 2.5 seconds.

  • In reply to jack:

    But Broadway in Edgewater & the same for Clark & Foster aren't in canyons.
    There's something seriously wrong with either the readers, the cards or both.
    I kept having the same "try Again" response on the eastern most turnstile at Granville, so I never use it anymore. I thought those are hardwired.

  • In reply to ScooterLibbby:

    In these systems with so many components, one can't tell if it is the card, reader, communications link, server, bad database design, or malware.

    But I suppose that Cubic should have done a complete audit of all of the above before CTA suddenly said that they were meeting standards.

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