Chicago Transit Authority (CTA)

IL: CTA and Pace Announce Steps to Ease Customers’ Transition to Ventra

As part of the ongoing rollout of the new Ventra fare payment system for both Chicago Transit Authority and Pace customers, the agencies announced more information that will allow customers to easily prepare for the transition to Ventra.

Select customers began using Ventra in early August in a gradual rollout of the new Ventra fare payment system. On Sept. 9, Ventra will be available to all CTA and Pace customers, beginning a transition to replace a nearly 20-year-old fare-payment system and offering transit customers the convenience and flexibility of using one card for all transit needs with faster boarding, easy account management and balance protection.

To make the transition simpler and to give customers plenty of time to plan for the conversion to Ventra, the following was announced Aug. 30:

Multiple ways to get a new Ventra Card

All customers will be able to obtain Ventra cards as of Sept. 9. The CTA and Pace are waiving the $5 one-time card purchase fee through the end of the year by purchasing online, phone or at the Ventra customer service center. Customers who obtain a new Ventra card from Ventra vending machines at CTA rail stations or at hundreds of Ventra retail locations can easily have the one-time $5 fee immediately refunded as stored transit value on their card by taking a few minutes to register it online or by phone.

Some customers, including U-Pass holders and Chicago Card Plus and registered Chicago Card holders, have already started receiving their Ventra cards as part of a phased distribution. Chicago Public School students received their student Ventra cards on the first day of school.

The Regional Transportation Authority (RTA) will issue new reduced fare and ride free permits starting in mid-September. Chicago Card Plus and Chicago Card customers participating in the transit benefits program will begin to transition to Ventra starting in mid-September through the fall.

Balance transfers to Ventra

The CTA and Pace encourage customers to spend down their balances on current fare cards, which will be phased out this fall.

As a convenience to customers who want to transfer their balances from current CTA and Pace fare media, the agencies announced 27 dates starting in mid-September through Dec. 15, at multiple locations throughout the region to allow customers to have balances transferred from legacy fare media to Ventra cards, free of charge. Eligible fare media include stored value magnetic stripe full fare and reduced fare cards, and Chicago Cards. Period passes, reduced fare passes, and passes sold in bulk or any expired fare media cannot be transferred.

Balance transfers will be automatically loaded onto registered Ventra cards, which will be provided to customers at no cost. Customers must also complete a Ventra transit account registration form, which will be available on site or can be obtained from the Ventra Customer Service Center or downloaded from, starting September 9.

Customers may bring a maximum of five eligible fare media cards at a time with a combined minimum of five dollars in transit value on the cards to transfer to a registered Ventra card.

No period passes (1-,3-,7-, or 30-day) will be transferred. These passes should be used prior to Dec. 15. Balances on expired fare cards will not be transferred

From January through March 2014, customers who still wish to transfer their balances to their registered Ventra card will be able to do so by mailing in their old fare cards to the Ventra Customer Service Center. There are no limitations on the number of cards or value amount for the mail-in option.

Milestone dates for current CTA and Pace fare media products
The CTA and Pace provided the following key transition dates to help customers plan for their transition to Ventra:

Sept. 9
• Ventra is available to all CTA and Pace customers.
• Chicago Card, Chicago Card Plus and magnetic stripe fare cards will no longer be sold online via CTA’s website

Oct. 7
• Chicago Card and Chicago Card Plus will no longer be able to have value loaded on to them, either online or at CTA rail station vending machines.
• Rail station vending machines will no longer sell magnetic striped stored value cards or period passes.
• Pace offers a new 30-day premium pass for customers using Ventra.

November 15
• Chicago Card and Chicago Card Plus will no longer be accepted on CTA buses and trains, nor on Pace buses.
• Customers will no longer be able to add value to stored value magnetic stripe cards. They will need to spend down balances or transfer their existing balances to Ventra cards.
• CTA and Pace will no longer sell magnetic stripe period passes. Customers need to use up existing passes by December 15.

December 15
• The CTA and Pace will no longer accept any magnetic stripe fare cards.
• Ventra replaces all CTA and Pace existing fare media.