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Ventra Mobile App Finally On Board for May or June

By Selena Fragassi in News on Mar 22, 2015 7:00PM

Image courtesy Chicago Transit Authority.

Want an easier way to pay for train and bus fare? There’s an app for that. Debuting in May or June, the Ventra mobile ticketing app will now allow users to bypass paper products altogether and buy fares using a Smartphone that is linked to a Ventra account or valid debit or credit card. The latest announcement, made last Friday, marks a huge step in both modernizing transport sales (Metra is still largely a cash operation) and finally creating a universal payment system for city and suburban riders who utilize a combination of the CTA, Pace and Metra.

To use the system, customers must have an Apple iPhone with an OS7 or higher operating system or an Android phone with a 4.0 or higher operating system; it will not be available for Blackberry users or for riders without smartphones. Amounts from $1 to $100 can be loaded into the account profile, and users will be able to easily view updates of remaining dollars or set alerts when the account drops below a certain figure.

Other features include a “trip tool” that provides alerts when buses or trains will arrive at a given destination; L trains and buses will be posted over a 20- to 30-minute window while Metra will load the schedule of five upcoming trains, though you can also enter a future date to get long-range options. The app promises further enhancements into 2016 as well, including an RTA trip planner.

Of course since Cubic Transportation Systems is part of developing the app (the same company that was criticized for the sloppy Ventra rollout from the beginning), there will be “extensive field testing” of the new mobile tool in the coming weeks to iron out all the kinks before it fully launches in late spring. In fact, officials are currently looking for 100 volunteers to test pilot the program—each agency’s website has a link to apply, but you must do so by April 3.