Select CTA and Pace customers will be able to use the new Ventra fare payment system, which allows them to use a single fare card for transit across the region, beginning the week of Aug. 5, the CTA and Pace announced July 29.
In addition, all CTA and Pace customers will be able to use the new Ventra system starting Sept. 9.
“The launch of Ventra, the new, convenient, modern and reliable fare payment system for our customers, is right around the corner,” said CTA President Forrest Claypool. “We’re excited to welcome the first users and eager to educate all of our customers about the benefits of Ventra, which will replace an outdated, nearly 20-year-old system with a modern, efficient one that will allow faster boarding, account management and balance protection when the card is registered.”
“With Ventra, it will be easier than ever for Pace passengers to purchase passes and add value,” said Pace Executive Director T.J. Ross. “Having the ability to manage Ventra accounts online or over the phone is another significant benefit to Pace riders both in terms of accessibility and account security.”
The Ventra system is designed by Cubic Transportation Systems, which was awarded the contract to develop in 2011.
First Ventra Customers
The week of Aug. 5, the first U-Pass cards will begin arriving at universities for student distribution and use. The first universities to receive their cards include Rush Medical School, Westwood College of Technology and Northwestern University School of Law. Additional universities participating in the U-Pass program will receive their cards later in the month in time for the start of their fall semesters.
Chicago Public Schools (CPS) students will receive their Ventra transit cards during school orientation prior to the first day of school on Aug. 26.
The CTA in recent weeks has sent more than 100,000 emails to Chicago Card Plus and Chicago Card registered customers, asking them to make sure their mailing address is updated so they can receive their new free Ventra cards by mail.
Customers who have validated their addresses will begin receiving their informational packets and cards the week of Aug. 19 and can begin using the Ventra system immediately once when their cards are activated. The CTA urges customers who have Chicago Card Plus or registered Chicago Cards to make sure their account information is up-to-date.
Activation will be simple.Chicago Card Plus customers’ balances or products will be automatically transferred to the Ventra system upon activation of Ventra cards.
Customers who received their Chicago Card and Chicago Card Plus through pretax transit benefit programs from their employers will begin receiving notification of their transition to Ventra starting in September.
These customer groups will be the only ones able to purchase products or add value until September. All remaining CTA and Pace customers will be able to use the new system beginning Sept. 9, when Ventra cards will be sold at retail locations and at rail stations. Between Aug. 5 and Sept. 9, Ventra machines will be available only to reload Ventra value; customers will not be able to obtain new Ventra cards until Sept. 9.
Upcoming customer events
In addition to dozens of community meetings, street festivals and other events this summer at which CTA and Pace have been providing an introduction to Ventra, the CTA and Pace will soon announce dates and locations to allow customers to obtain and register Ventra cards with a waived initial $5 one-time fee at community locations. The CTA and Pace encourage customers to “spend it down” – to begin spending down fare balances on current fare media in the transition to the new fare payment system.