In an effort to help CTA and Pace customers transition to the new Ventra fare payment system, the agencies are providing a list locations that will allow transit customers to transfer balances from old fare cards to new Ventra Cards.
At neighborhood events across the city and suburbs, CTA and Pace customers can transfer stored transit value from eligible magnetic-stripe cards and Chicago Cards to new registered Ventra Cards, which will be provided at no cost. Customers may bring a maximum of five eligible fare media cards at a time with a combined minimum of $5 in transit value.
Ventra made its full public rollout on Sept. 9, bringing the convenience and flexibility of a single fare card to all transit customers throughout the region. Ventra, which replaces CTA and Pace fare payment systems that were nearly 20 years old, allows transit riders to board CTA trains and buses and Pace buses with a simple “tap” of a Ventra Card or a contactless personal bankcard.
The Ventra system has had more than 5 million taps and as of last week comprised about 22 percent of all CTA and Pace rides, a number that will increase as more customers transition to Ventra. There are currently more than 500,000 registered Ventra customers.
Ventra will replace all CTA and Pace existing fare media by Dec. 15.
Balance Transfer Rules
Fare media that is eligible for balance transfers includes CTA and Pace 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 to Ventra Cards and must be used up.
Customers who visit the balance transfer events will be asked to fill out a Ventra registration form. Upon processing of their balance transfers to a new Ventra Card, they will be automatically registered with Ventra, which provides the benefits of an account-based system, including balance protection and easy account management. There are no extra costs to use Ventra for transit and fares are the same as today.
Registration forms are available online, at the Ventra Customer Service Center and onsite at each balance transfer event. Customers with an already registered Ventra Card can also come to transfer balances to their transit account.
Students and seniors may transfer eligible reduced fare magnetic stripe card value onto their new reduced fare Ventra cards by simply bringing their reduced fare Ventra Cards to balance transfer events. No new reduced fare Ventra cards will be distributed at balance transfer events – only full-fare Ventra Cards, so customers must bring their new reduced-fare Ventra cards.
Chicago Public School students received their student Ventra cards at the beginning of the school year in August. Seniors will receive their Ventra reduced fare cards from the Regional Transportation Authority starting this month through November and should contact the RTA Customer Service Center.
Reduced fare customers can opt to transfer balances onto full-fare Ventra cards that are provided at the balance transfer events. However, they will not be able to receive a reduced fare when using the full-fare Ventra Card.
Chicago Card Plus customers are encouraged to wait for their new Ventra Cards to arrive via mail.
Customers can also learn how to use Ventra, including how to tap their card on a Ventra reader and how to load value onto their card at Ventra vending machines, by visiting the Ventra Bus that will be parked outside most events.
Customers still have time to spend down value on their Chicago Cards by Nov. 15 and on their magnetic stripe stored value and period passes through Dec. 15. The CTA and Pace recommend that customers transition to Ventra as soon possible to get familiar with the new fare payment system.
More than one hundred people successfully transferred transit balances to new registered Ventra Cards at recent events held at Gage, Gompers, McKinley, Fosco, Carver, Columbus and Eugene Field parks.
Upcoming events are all wheelchair accessible. Times, dates and locations are subject to change.