CTA Ventra question: What about reduced-fare card users?

Since I wrote Moving to CTA Ventra card: What you need to know on Monday, I have heard from a few seniors with reduced fare cards wondering about their transition to the new Ventra payment system. Here’s what I found in the Ventra FAQ (a very helpful document). It applies to all users of reduced fare cards.

What will happen to reduced-fare cards?
Eligible CTA and Pace customers, including students, seniors and people with disabilities, will continue to receive a reduced fare. Reduced fare customers will be mailed a new hard-plastic permit beginning in September. The permit will be combined with the fare card and will be more durable and easier to use than the existing magnetic stripe cards. These versions will be for transit use only and will not have a Prepaid Debit Account option.

So, I hope that answers that question. Meanwhile, here are some more facts and tidbits about Ventra.

Ventra machines replacing Express Vending Machines. To make room for the new machines, the CTA says it is gradually replacing with new Ventra machines the limited number of Express Vending Machines (located in 29 stations) and the 22 Visitor Pass Machines at stations that get more tourists, such as Grand Red Line and O’Hare Blue Line.

Guide to transition milestone published. The CTA has posted a helpful guide that gives info on key transition milestones to Ventra to help customers plan.

When is Ventra available to everyone and where do I get it?

  • Everyone can buy/use Ventra Sept. 9
  • Customers can buy cards at machines at CTA stations and retailers on Sept. 9
  • Ventra cards can be pre-ordered now at ventrachicago.com
  • Customers can order cards by phone starting Sept. 9 by calling (877) NOW VENTRA.
  • CTA and Pace customers this fall will be able to transfer balances from current fare cards to registered Ventra cards. Locations and dates are listed here.

More than a million taps already. Current Ventra card users have already made more than a million taps on Ventra card readers.

Up to seven rides at once. CTA customers will be able to do passbacks on the Ventra card. You can pay for up to seven rides at once with one Ventra card.
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  • You were always able to do 7 rides on a magstripe card.
    All they needed to do was find someone to custom make several million more Chicago Cards at a fraction of the $454 million!

    In 2-3 years, we will then find out which consultant made millions in fees [actually bribes] from Cubic to convince the CTA [more bribes] to buy this mess!

  • In reply to ScooterLibbby:

    Sorry, but the magnetic strip cards need to die, die, die! I'm sick to bloody death of waiting in long lines to board the bus, or pass through a turnstile because a handful of riders are futzing with the stupid card.

  • In reply to SpinyNorman:

    Apparently you didn't read the second line I wrote!

    "All they needed to do was find someone to custom make several million more Chicago Cards at a fraction of the $454 million!"

    The first line was simply a comment on the CTA making it seem like the seven rides on one card is something new, when you've been able to do it from the beginning of the farecards!

  • In reply to ScooterLibbby:

    While you were always able to do 7 rides on a magstripe card or a Chicago Card, there was a restriction that all 7 riders had to start at the same place together. That restriction has been removed from Ventra Cards.

    Probably not a big deal, but it might come in handy sometimes.

  • In reply to Olaf1:

    This is significantly better. 50% of the time I put an additional person on my Chicago Card Plus, the bus operator didn't register 2 people - only 1. Then at the next transfer, say at a train station, we'd have to stop, dig out change and buy a mag card for the second person. Really, to me, this one feature takes away the hesitency I had of using a Ventra card for more than one person. Good news!

  • Student Ventra cards have the owner's picture on them. I'm assuming that is supposed to prevent the owner from lending it out, but I don't see bus drivers or station attendants looking at the cards.

  • In reply to Cheryl:

    Senior half price cards & the ride free cards also have photos on them & they're never looked at by drivers either.
    Metra conductors do look at them.

  • I just got an email from the CTA telling me they would be sending me information in August about switching over to Ventra.

  • In reply to Cheryl:

    Lol. Someone from the CTA must be monitoring this blog! ;-)

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    In reply to Cheryl:

    I got an email on August 20 that read: "You will receive an email from Ventra as soon as your card has been printed - this will occur over the next two weeks." Of course I have heard nothing since. When I called Ventra they told me it would probably be the end of September. Very frustrating--I need to update my credit card information and I'm not sure if I can do it on the existing Chicago Card Plus, or if I need to wait and do it when I receive the Ventra card.

  • In reply to Eli Naeher:

    I didn't get any e- mail from them at all.

    I contacted Ventra by e-mail (through the Ventra website) twice this week.

    The first time the reply told me that all registered Chicago Card users had received e-mails and I should let them know if I had any other questions. I replied that I didn't receive any e-mail and could they explain what I should do? I received no reply to that.

    Today I tried again, trying to make it even more clear that I am a registered Chicago Card user and had received no e-mail. The reply:

    "Thank you for contacting Ventra customer service. Since your Chicago card is still active, please wait, if you haven't received your new Ventra card by the end of this month, give us a call and we will resolve the issue. I hope you found this information helpful. If you need further assistance please contact customer service at the number provided below."

    So, between the lines of that reply is more information than they have announced publicly to date,. Apparently if you are a registered Chicago Card user you may expect that they will be sending you a Ventra card some time in September without your having to take any action. And perhaps those with Chicago Cards nowhere near expiring will receive their new Ventra cards last.

    Well and good, but why couldn't they just say so in the first place?

  • In reply to Eli Naeher:

    Eli, you can update your credit card info on the Chicago Card site and it will transfer to Ventra.

  • In reply to Eli Naeher:

    Ditto. Got the email. No card.

  • No, this does not apply to all users of reduced fare cards. CTA has reduced-fare cards right now for 7-11 year olds that are not getting any transition. CTA's answer to me was contact Ventra. Ventra's answer, after 1st understanding that children 7-11 reduced fare(24/7) is NOT the same as student reduced fare(specific M-F times/school year only/different fare charged), was that the CTA personnel would have override the system on the bus or turnstyle and that it would then properly charge a reduced fare on the parent's full fare card. They also stated that all of the Customer Service Assistants and Bus Operators have been trained on how to do this. I hope so since CTA customer service could only point to Ventra and didn't know the answer themselves. I forgot to ask if all Pace Bus Operators also know how to do the same.

    Why is there no written policy on how CTA's own fare structure for 7-11 year olds will be handled by Ventra?

    Perhaps, just like before, when I get on the 146 at Field museum with a boarding bus load of families, I will pay reduced-fare for my kids(or at least attempt to with Ventra) while ALL of the other 7-11 year olds get waived through.

  • In reply to JohnT:

    Things were different when I was 11 years old. Back then, kids used to ride buses without their parents sometimes. It's great if they have a procedure for sharing their parents' Ventra Card, but what if they are not with a parent? Or is it just unimaginable that an 11 year old can go somewhere these days without mom driving them in a mini-van? Or if they are seriously poor, at least coming along on the bus?

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    In reply to Olaf1:

    This is my issue cuz my daughter is 10 and sometimes have to ride by herself... CTA needs to figure something else out... she can get a student pass, but what about when it is not CTA authorized school times?

  • In reply to Lisa Matthews:

    Lisa, the Ventra cards "knows" when it is not school time and will charge your daughter the regular fare for her age.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to JohnT:

    Thats just stupid... SMH

  • Speaking of botched communication, this was part of the weekly email from the CTA about service changes:

    #11 Lincoln Temporary Reroute

    Sep 4 - 9
    10am Thu to 12 noon Mon or completion

    How does this affect my trip?
    Southbound buses will operate via Western, Wilson, Lincoln, Montrose and Western to Leland, ending their trips at the Western Brown Line station.

    Northbound buses will begin their trips at Western/Leland, at the Western Brown Line station, then resume their normal route on Western.

    Allow extra travel time.

    Why is service being changed?
    Buses are rerouted due to the German American Festival and Von Steuben Parade.

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