The Ventra card has an initial $5 purchase cost, which is immediately refunded to the card for transit use upon registration online or by phone.
Customers who pay with magnetic stripe fare cards and unregistered Chicago Card customers will be able to transfer balances to their Ventra cards at select locations starting in September and throughout the transition to Ventra. However, spending down balances on current cards remains the simplest method of transitioning to Ventra.
Transitioning to new system
Below is a calendar summary of upcoming events:
• Chicago Card Plus and registered Chicago Card customers who have received their Ventra cards can begin using Ventra system the week of Aug. 19 one they have activated their cards.
• The first U-Pass customers will begin using the system the week of Aug. 5.
• Chicago Card Plus and registered Chicago Card customers who have received their Ventra cards can begin using Ventra system upon receipt and activation of the cards.
• CPS students will receive their Ventra transit cards during school orientation prior to the first day of school on Aug. 26.
• Customers who use magnetic stripe fare cards should begin to spend down balances.
• There will be fewer express vending machines accepting credit cards and visitor pass machines at select rail stations.
Starting in September:
• Ventra is available to all CTA and Pace customers on Sept. 9.
• New Chicago Cards will no longer be issued; balances can still be spent or transferred to Ventra.
• There will be fewer transit card vending machines to purchase and load fare value at rail stations.
• No more express vending machines and visitor pass machines at rail stations.
• The Regional Transportation Authority will begin issuing new reduced fare, ride free and ADA paratransit permits to seniors and people with disabilities currently enrolled in those programs.
By the end of October:
• Chicago Card customers can no longer add or reload transit value at vending machines; balances on cards can still be used or transferred to Ventra.
• Magnetic stripe customers can no longer buy new transit cards at station vending machines, but can continue to reload their existing cards.
• Magnetic stripe cards will no longer be sold at retail locations; retailers will have fewer magnetic stripe unlimited-ride period passes (1-day, 3-day, 7-day and 30-day) passes in stock.
• Fewer transit card vending machines
• Customers can no longer reload stored value cards.
• No more functioning transit card vending machines at CTA stations or offsite locations; these will be replaced with Ventra vending machines.
• Customers can no longer purchase new period passes.
• Balances on unlimited ride period passes need to be used up.
• RTA will no longer distribute the old reduced fare, ride free and ADA paratransit permits.
• Magnetic stripe farecards (including stored value or period passes) will be no longer accepted.
• Balance transfers of stored value on remaining valid magnetic stripe cards can be transferred to Ventra through March 2014.
• Transfers can no longer be purchased on Pace using cash, subject to Pace board approval, but can be purchased with Ventra Cards or registered bankcards.
• All reduced fare, ride free and ADA paratransit customers must use their new Ventra permits.