Two Ventra Card Fees Missing On List Of Potential Charges [UPDATE]

By Chuck Sudo in News on Mar 26, 2013 2:30PM

2013_3_26_ventra.jpg CTA's public relations nightmare with the upcoming Ventra shared fare system continues. On Monday it was revealed two of the more controversial hidden fees in the system weren't in the final agreement between Ventra and CTA. But a Tribune analysis of Ventra against other debit card services showed that riders using the card could be subject to nearly $200 in assorted fees.

The two fees in question from the service are the $10-per-hour "account research fee" and a $2.95 charge for reloading a Ventra Card online with a credit card. The website NerdWallet.com told the Tribune Ventra ranked 16th among 59 prepaid debit cards they analyzed and said it "is not very consumer-friendly." CTA spokeswoman Tammy Chase told Chicagoist the fees were part of the initial proposal from Ventra but not the final contract.

But those are only two of the litany of hidden fees awaiting Ventra Card users when the program goes into effect this summer. CTA Tattler Kevin O'Neil has the full list here. A representative for First Data Corp., the company behind Ventra, told the tribune the two fees were dropped from the contract last year. But their contract with CTA does allow for the two fees to return at any time. The remaining fees could cost Ventra card users an extra $188 (or $15 a month), if they use Ventra as a debit card.

As O'Neil notes, CTA could have kept the negative fallout contained if they only revealed the list of fees with the original announcement. Or they and Pace could have avoided it altogether by switching to a shared fare service that doesn't allow riders the ability to use it as a debit card. There is absolutely no need for a rider to use a fare card for anything except pay for bus and train fares. Since the main criticism of Ventra is that it will cost low-income riders more money to use, they and other riders who switch to the system will have to either read the contract with a fine-tooth comb or pay a little extra for a standard fare pass. As it stands now, the latter option is looking more enticing by the day.