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Ventra Launches Wide To CTA, Pace Riders Today

By Chuck Sudo in News on Sep 9, 2013 2:00PM

2013_3_26_ventra.jpg The day of reckoning has arrived for CTA and Pace riders. Ventra, the open fare payment system adopted by the two transit agencies, launches wide for all riders.

You don’t have to immediately switch to Ventra, but CTA will is in the process of forcing your hand in that regard. If you have a current fare card, Chicago Card or Chicago Card Plus, you can use them through Dec. 15 but CTA is in the process of removing the vending machines used to add fare value to fare cards and the Chicago Cards. All of those vending machines are expected to be discontinued by Nov. 15 and replaced by Ventra vending machines. By Dec. 15, all old fare cards and Chicago Cards will no longer be recognized. (Outstanding balances on either Chicago Card may be transferred over to Ventra until March 2014.)

Ventra cards are available from the vending machines at CTA rail stations and transit centers and at hundreds of retail locations across Chicago, including Walgreens, Jewel-Osco, CVS and currency exchanges. Riders may also order cards and find retail locations selling the cards via or by calling 877-669-8368. The $5 fee to buy a card at a retail location will be reimbursed to you as a fare addition. Riders who wish to only purchase a single-fare ride will be charged $3—$2.25 for the fare; a 25-cent transfer fee and a 50-cent media usage fee.

The system has been roundly criticized as it neared its roundup because of its ability to double as a pre-paid debit card and because students who were issued the cards had a hard time adding fare value to them. Tribune Transportation reporter Jon HIlkevitch reports several cases of Chicago Card holders no longer being able to use their cards; a couple Chicagoistos said their Chicago Cards stopped working weeks ago.

The Sun-Times reports many riders are going about their business as usual as Ventra launches. CTA spokeswoman Tammy Chase told the Sun-Times Monday "is not like some magic cutoff" and that Ventra and the old fare system will work in tandem through Dec. 15.

Metra announced last month they're also adopting Ventra and will launch a pilot program to test the system next year.


Previous Chicagoist coverage of Ventra.