The CTA has 53,000 customers who take advantage of the federal transit benefits program. It allows those riders to buy CTA rides with pre-tax dollars through their employer. These folks were among the last to get their new Ventra card.
Their transition to using the Ventra card began last Friday. But not all transit benefits customers have activated their cards. (And I’ve heard from a few who haven’t received them.)
As a result, the CTA will provide transit benefits customers with a grace period that allows them to use their Chicago Card Plus through Nov. 15 in the event that they have not activated their Ventra card, a CTA spokesperson told me via email.
Here’s the CTA advice/information for these customers:
We strongly encourage customers to activate their cards and make the transition to Ventra as quickly as possible.
All employee transit elections for November will post to Ventra accounts whether or not the employee has activated their Ventra card by 11/1.
If an employee has not activated Ventra by 11/1, they will not lose their November transit funds. They will be held in the Ventra account and be accessible upon activation of the Ventra card. They will not be posted to Chicago Card Plus accounts.
If the customer has an additional funding source (i.e., autoload with a personal bank card or checking account) on their Chicago Card Plus, that funding source will not be cut off as of 11/1 and will still fund their Chicago Card Plus. After customers activate their Ventra cards, any remaining Chicago Card Plus balance will transfer to their Ventra card and they can set up a similar funding source to their Ventra accounts online by logging onto their accounts at ventrachicago.com.
If a customer does not have an additional funding source (i.e., autoload with a personal bank card or checking account) on their Chicago Card Plus, they can continue to use their Chicago Card Plus after 11/1. Any remaining balance will be used and any additional rides taken will be deducted from their Ventra account once activated.
From my experience as transit benefits user, this transition is further complicated by the fact that often another third party company administers the benefits program. I had to login to that company’s website and delete my Chicago Card Plus, and add my Ventra card. It was not a smooth process. And each administrator has different rule and processes. So it’s just more nonsense to get through.