CTA board OKs Ventra fare system fees; details on how it will work

The CTA board today formally cleared the way for a new fare payment system to start sometime this summer.

The Ventra system uses “tap and go” technology found on many credit and debit cards. Riders can use their own properly equipped cards, or buy the CTA’s Ventra card for $5. Riders then can register the card by phone or Internet and have the $5 fee added to the stored value.

Here are some basic facts:

  • Fares will remain the same, though rail riders who buy single-use tickets will pay a 75-cent premium over the base $2.25  fare – 50 cents to cover the cost to produce the embedded wireless chip, plus 25 cents for a transfer.
  • For riders with a Chicago Card Plus, the value in that card will be automatically transferred.
  • Riders with a Chicago Card will have to use the stored value in their card, as it cannot be transferred.
  • By January 2014 will be able to purchase Ventra reloadable cards at more than 2,000 locations within 1/3 mile of more than 11,000 CTA bus stops and at all rail stations. Currently, CTA customers can buy fare cards at more than 600 locations.
  • The CTA may give away a number of Ventra cards in a promotional effort. But there are no details yet on how.
  • By 2014, the CTA no longer will accept Chicago Cards or the magnetic strip transit cards.
  • The Ventra cards would be accepted on both the CTA and Pace routes.
  • The word Ventra is derived from the Latin word “ventus,” which means wind. Get it? Windy City?

Get lots more information at the Ventra website.


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  • The Press Release answers your prior posters on how the card is to be registered.

    Also, somewhat interesting was the other Press Release today on how, after the UPass rate is raised, it can be used as a Ventra card, either on CTA when U is not in session or on Pace at any time. However, it appears that students will have to preload the extra fares.

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    In reply to jack:

    I find that caveat pretty annoying, considering I have a UPass, yet I have to go out of my way to pay money to get to work in Brookfield on Pace. I can take having the extra money taken out of my financial aid if I can get unlimited rides on CTA and Pace, but then again, who's being realistic?

    Consequently, what does the move to Ventra do with Pace's Student Advantage (their version of UPass)?

  • Pace would have to decide that.

    As indicated by Pace not honoring the 7 day CTA pass, but only the joint pass costing $5 more, Pace will not honor a pass on which it does not receive reimbursement.

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    In reply to jack:

    If Pace wants to get reimbursed with a universal UPass with Ventra, then fine, tack on the extra $$$, because I don't see what CTA or Pace would profit off of still having two separate forms of college student passes, especially if magnetic UPass/Student Advantages go by the wayside with Ventra.

  • If it looks like a duck, walks like a duck, it's a fare increase.

  • In reply to ibilldavis:

    I found the ordinance 011-143, which authorized the contract with Cubic and included:

    “Single Use Rail Cards” - disposable transit cards available for a
    single ride on the rail system (and transfer to bus if a transfer is purchased at the time of card issuance). An additional fee, to be determined by the Transit Board, will apply to purchase of these cards. The additional fee will not exceed fifty cents.

    So, this was predetermined in Nov. 2011. The only reason the hearing was held was the federal requirement of input before a fare increase. So it was one. No different than the various fare increases Emanuel denied with respect to the late 2013 CTA budget.

    Add to that that the minimum purchase (which cannot be stored on the ticket) was raised to an L ride and a transfer, as opposed to just boarding the L.

    As I said before, the voters should think about the various prevaricators that they put into office.

  • The CTA should have done this a long time ago,it's the 21st century people,only a person living under a rock or a idiot walks around with cash in 2013,mabey the CTA can use all the wasted money they spend on those cash trucks to install that new fangled thing from 1853 called a elevator in the stations on the north side

  • Believe it or not, airportguy, not everyone has access to credit. Some people don't even have bank accounts. And even more startling is some of those same people have jobs they need to get to. I'll bet there are people who work at the airports who have no credit cards or cell phones or internet access.

  • In reply to Cheryl:

    I llike using cash whenever possible because then I don't have to identify myself to retailers or go in their database with my identity and purchases or even push their stupid buttons on the console at the checkout. Of course I have credit cards but I use them judiciously. Also, with cash, I have to be aware of how much I've got left, and not overspend.

    That said, I don't have a problem with using an electronic card to pay my transit fares--it's quicker and simpler than feeding bills and change into a slot every time. But then, I load it with cash, so in my mind it's pretty much the same thing

  • I'm for organizing a boycott. If a significant number of regular riders simply refuse to use the Ventra they'll have to come up with something else.

  • In reply to Cheryl:

    Cheryl, I think you're being a tad unrealistic. People will in fact be able to use something other than Ventra - they can use their own properly configured debit/credit card.

    It's really too late to come up with something different. CTA is mandated by state law to do this open fare system.

  • In reply to Kevin O’Neil:

    Kevin is right, as I indicated yesterday. Either you use one of the optional methods of payment, or you boycott the CTA entirely in 2014.

    Do you think you can get on an airplane without an e-ticket? Or do you pay cash to the pilot?

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    In reply to Kevin O’Neil:

    At the Red Eye Tracy Swartz wrote: "You can use a debit/credit card to pay CTA fares if it has the chip that is compatible with Ventra."

    How could someone determine if their debit or credit card is compatible?

    If it is compatible, can it be used in place of a 30-day-pass Ventra card, or only to pay per ride?

  • In reply to Eli Naeher:

    This faq on the Ventra site answers the question.

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    In reply to jack:


    I would love to know how many people actually have these cards. I have never seen one myself. According to the contactless card trade association there were 17 million in 2007 (http://www.smartcardalliance.org/pages/publications-contactless-payments-faq). Around the same time the census bureau estimated 1.5 billion total credit and debit cards in use.

    So that's a little more than 1% of credit and debit cards that have this technology. It's odd that the CTA is pushing the "you can use your regular credit card as your CTA card" angle to heavily given how few of its customers will actually be able to do so.

  • In reply to Eli Naeher:


    You didn't make the right conclusion. There were 17 million in 2007, very early in the adoption process. It's now 6 years later and a much higher amount of people undoubtedly have them now. My Chase debit and credit cards both have it.

  • In reply to chris:

    Good point. Also how many credit cards does an individual have in one's wallet? Usually more than one, and one is sufficient.

    However, from what Kevin Zolk posted elsewhere, apparently were are giving away where we have our bank accounts, you more directly than me.

  • In reply to Eli Naeher:

    At least the first question. The other one, not clearly answered as of yet, is whether passes can be associated with a bank card, as opposed to just a Ventra card.

  • In reply to jack:

    It is my understanding you can use your own card for a 30-day pass. Too.

  • In reply to Kevin O’Neil:

    Not everyone has a properly configured debit/credit card.

  • In reply to Cheryl:

    So you will have to buy the conventional Ventra Card, with the $5 creditable deposit on registration. Or the monthly pass will be loaded on a Ventra Card, which you will register.

    Kevin was only answering whether one would need a pass on a Ventra Card if you can put it on a Blink bank card.

    Otherwise, what's your point?

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    I have a prepaid debit card right now. What are the advantages of me switching to Ventra's debit other than me using that money to get on the CTA every day?

  • It would depend on the comparative terms between your current bank and the bank that is behind the Money Network. You would have to compare fees (monthly, reloading, etc.), although there was also a story about complaints against the company behind Money Network with the Better Business Bureau.

    And, as indicated earlier, maybe your existing debit card already has the Blink logo.

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    In reply to jack:

    I'll have to look into it more when fees are made public in due time.

    Also, no Blink logo. This obviously means no such affiliation with the Money Network exists, right?

  • No, it means it won't register when you tap a reader.

    I mentioned earlier that I had a real bank debit/ATM card (not prepaid) with the logo. McDonald's also has the logo, so I suppose I could tap it there (although I don't).

  • You know it is a boondoggle for somebody. Just not the people who use the system or C.T.A. employees. Guaranteed.

  • CTA doesn't give a crap about what the citizens want. Remember how they had that "meeting" to listen to the community on cutting the #11. The worst part is all these fare prices going up, yet we still have a horrible transit system. Why do you think they want to hire 200 felons. So when they get turned over they are cheaper in the long run. I am all up for second chances but I wouldn't trust a felon driving a bus full of passengers.

  • In reply to thisCityMyCity:

    Just so you know, the felons the CTA are hiring will be cleaning buses and trains, not driving buses. Are you OK with that?

  • This is looking more and more like the parking meter deal. Or 'de-crowding' the trains by forcing more people to ride the trains.

  • A fare for all and no fair for anyone.


    I foresee a real Fee For All

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