Ventra card: Oct. 7 means no more CTA mag card sales, Chicago Card reloads

The first big CTA Ventra card deadline is upon us. On Monday, Oct. 7, these changes go into effect:

      • Rail station vending machines will no longer sell CTA magnetic stripe stored value cards or magnetic stripe period passes.
      • Riders will be able to continue to reload their magnetic stripe fare cards with stored value until Monday, Nov. 15.

Customers may be able to purchase magnetic stripe period passes at retail locations that still have them in stock.

CTA workers install new Ventra machines at the Belmont Red-Purple-Brown station.

CTA workers install new Ventra machines at the Belmont Red-Purple-Brown station.

  • Chicago Card customers will no longer be able to reload their cards at CTA rail station vending machines. Registered Chicago Card customers are continuing to transition to Ventra. New Ventra Cards are on their way to these customers via mail. Registered Chicago Card customers are encouraged to reload sufficient value on their cards prior to Monday (today!) until their new Ventra Cards arrive and are activated.
  • Chicago Card Plus customers are continuing totransition to Ventra. Though you may not have gotten your Ventra  card yet, Chicago Card Plus customers can continue to auto-load their Chicago Card Plus accounts until their Ventra Cards arrive and are activated.
  • Pace will begin offering a new 30-day premium pass for customers using Ventra.

And remember, riders can also use their contactless personal credit or debit cards to pay for fares by adding transit value or period passes to their cards at Ventra vending machines. Customers can then tap the card to board buses and trains, which entitles them to 25-cent transfers (and free Pace local transfers within designated areas) and a second free transfer within two-hours after initiating the trip.

If you don’t add value to your personal credit or debit card at a Ventra machine, you will be charged the full fare every time – no 25-cent transfers.

Be sure to take your debit/credit card out of your wallet or purse and touch it to the reader so the proper card is charged.
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  • Here are two how-to videos that may help any confused or hesitant riders. Unliked the videos put up by Ventra, they are actually useful:

    CTA How-To Videos: Buying a Ventra Card

    Google Wallet on Ventra - It's live!
    (This video shows how to preload a Ventra account associated with a phone, but the idea is the same for a personal credit/debit card.)

    By the way, great write-up. I hope we finally got all the details right and the CTA doesn't pull any new surprises.

  • Sorry, I screwed up the link on the second video:

    Google Wallet on Ventra - It's live!

  • I'm still waiting for my Reduced Fare card to come.
    My neighbor is waiting for his Ride Free card to come.
    We both hate the mag stripe cards & both of us have had to have them replaced more than once due to them going bad. Then you have to fight with the drivers & station attendants over whether you're even going to get on the train or bus!
    At least Metra just looks at the card & then I pay half!

  • A customer's CCP will continue to auto-load until her/his Ventra card has been sent and activated? This is new, right? Woohoo!

  • In reply to emglatstein:

    Yes. that appears to be a last-minute change of heart on the part of CTA. But remember that your CCP will stop working on November 15 regardless. Unless, of course, that changes, too.

  • In reply to emglatstein:

    Right, as Olaf says that's new.

  • ok. I am a very occasional CTA user, coming into the city maybe 1 or 2 times a year during my summer vacation to take in some of the sights with my daughter. Previously, I would buy a magnetic stripe card to pay my fares. Now what do I do? I do not have a credit card with the contactless access (or want one as I do not trust them not to be pirated by passer by's). I do not have a ventra card. Now how do I pay? As I understand it, I cannot pay cash to use the Rapid Transit trains as the turnstyles do not accept cash. Do I need to get ventra cards for me and my 6 year old to use the cta for the couple of times a year I would use it? THese ventra cards cost money dont they? I have to now pay for the privilege to pay for cta usage? Whats the scoop here?

  • In reply to Fred Miller:

    If you buy a Ventra card now and register it, you could get the $5 fee credited back to the card as transit value. That's what I would do. Otherwise you would have to buy a $3 card to get on a train.

  • In reply to Kevin O’Neil:

    So I have to buy 2 Ventura cards that I will use maybe2 times a year just to use the cta. Great way to promote tourism in the city. This thing is an abomination. I know, I am a dinosaur. I don't have a debit card. I use credit cards sparingly. I use cash for most of my purchases. This great cashless society IMHO is just a way to get people to keep buying without worrying about paying. This is just another way to get people deeper in debt

  • In reply to Fred Miller:

    Kevin's answer was "or," not "and; either the permanent card or the $3 ticket. But, yes, one or the other, and the $5 fare at O'Hare station was explicitly to soak it to tourists.

  • In reply to Fred Miller:

    And you could put enough money on one permanent Ventra card to cover both you and your child, supposedly.

  • In reply to Fred Miller:

    Children 6 years and under ride free on CTA, Pace, and Metra when accompanied by a paying adult. So you don't have to worry about your child until they reach age 7.

    Up to 7 people can share a Ventra Card. If you will be riding with your child, tell the the bus driver that you will be paying for a 7-year-old (or whatever) and he will push a button and it will deduct a child fare instead of an adult fare. At a train station you will have to find an attendant to let your child through for reduced fare. If you don't want to find an attendant, you can pay full-fare for your child just by tapping your card before each person goes through the turnstile. Tap the card, let your child go through, tap again and you go through.

    I suggest you order a Ventra Card in advance from the Ventra web site:
    The minimum order is $5. If you get one in advance, then you don't have to worry about registering later to get your $5 back, you'll have it available to use right away. And you can load additional value onto your Ventra Card from home over the internet so you don't have to bother with machines at the train station.

  • You said, "Chicago Card Plus customers can continue to auto-load their Chicago Card Plus accounts until their Ventra Cards arrive and are activated."

    I'm the transit benefits administrator for my company. Each month I place an order with the CTA to load certain amounts onto our employees' Chicago Card Plus cards. That is the ONLY way that people who use transit benefits can load money onto their cards, at least if they want to use pre-tax funds. I'm not sure if there is any other way to load funds onto them.

    Normally I would place the order during their ordering window, which is the 5th through the 15th of the month. The web site where I do this says that we have elected to participate in the Ventra Transit Benefits program, and to continue with the order submission as usual. HOWEVER, the update window is still CLOSED (even though it is October 8th, right in the middle of the window) and will not reopen until November 5th!

    This means that I have NO way to load funds onto anyone's card this month, so I will have quite a few of my co-workers upset with me. The ones who normally get $100 30-day passes will get to November 1 and have zero funds in their account. They might have received their Ventra cards by then (most still have not), but there will be no funds to transfer over from their Chicago Card Plus, except for those on the pay-per-ride system.

    The Ventra FAQs say, "You will receive emails in September outlining your transition to Ventra. In the meantime, you can continue administering the Transit Benefits Program as you do now until this November." But of course there were no such emails, and they have locked me out of administration functions until November.

    Anyone who gets their card reloaded via the transit benefits program (especially if they purchase a 30-day pass) should probably check with their administrator immediately to see if they are likely to have any funds to use come November 1, on a Ventra card or otherwise.

  • UPDATE to my previous comment:

    The CTA is now saying that administrators WILL be able to load funds onto cards this month, but we have to submit the information to the CTA in a special format. That format "will be provided soon" (I hope they come through with it) and the information has to be submitted by October 23rd. CTA will then pass it to Ventra to be loaded. Considering how things have been going so far, I'm not too confident that this will go any better, but it seems to be about the only option I have as a transit benefits administrator.

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