The transition will fully convert CTA and Pace customers to Ventra, the first fully open contactless fare payment system in North America. Currently, 81 percent of CTA customers and nearly 60 percent of Pace customers are using Ventra, with more than 1.5 million Ventra transit accounts currently active.
The transition calendar has three phases:
- May 1—Customers can no longer buy magnetic stripe cards or autoload/reload Chicago Card/Chicago Card Plus
- June 1—Customers can no longer reload magnetic stripe cards or use Chicago Card/Chicago Card Plus
- July 1—Customers can no longer use magnetic stripe cards. Pace customers paying with cash will no longer be issued a Transfer Card. All customers will be transitioned to Ventra.
CTA, Pace and Cubic Transportation Systems have made several improvements to the system, from software upgrades to improvements to the Ventra call center. Ventra performance continues to meet the high standards laid out by CTA in November. CTA will continue to monitor this performance closely to ensure Chicagoans have a seamless commute and can rely on a world-class transportation system.
For the last three months Ventra has performed well overall, and is used by more than one million riders each day,” said CTA President Forrest Claypool. “We have worked closely with our vendor, Cubic, to increase the reliability and convenience of the system.”
“We teamed with CTA and Cubic to create improvements that focus on meeting our customers’ expectations,” said Pace Executive Director T.J. Ross. “Over the next few months, Pace is carrying out a grassroots campaign to inform our riders about the transition and the favorable benefits of using Ventra.”
Chicago Card Plus customers enrolled in the CTA’s Transit Benefits through their employers and O’Hare employees using the temporary O’Hare smart card are transitioning the first week of April, and will receive specific instructions through their employers.
To assist customers who still need to transition, Ventra has a number of ways to make the process seamless:
- Customers can easily obtain a Ventra Card at vending machines at CTA’s 145 rail stations and at more than 1,000 retail locations in Chicago and the suburbs. To take advantage of balance protection in the event of a lost/stolen card and online account management, customers can easily register their cards at ventrachicago.com and have the one-time card purchase fee of $5 converted to fare value on their Ventra Card.
- Ventra plans a number of balance transfer events throughout the city over the next three months. At these events, customers can transfer balances from valid magnetic-stripe cards and Chicago Cards, obtain and register a new Ventra Card (with no upfront purchase fee), and have their questions answered. These events will also assist customers who have been issued Reduced Fare and Ride Free Permits by the Regional Transportation Authority (RTA).
- Balance transfer customers may bring a maximum of five eligible fare media cards with a combined minimum of $5 in transit value. 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. Unlimited ride 1-day, 3-day, 7-day and 30-day 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. RTA reduced-fare permit holders must bring in new Ventra RTA reduced-fare permit for balance transfer.
- Pace will announce a series of Ventra Card distribution events to be held at transit centers and key suburban transfer locations at which customers can receive a free Ventra Card (with in-person registration) and have their questions answered.
- Ventra staff will also be deployed at several rail stations on dates to be announced to answer questions and help customers transition to Ventra.
- Chicago Card Plus customers who have not yet transitioned to Ventra will be able to do so conveniently online at ventrachicago.com. Early next week Chicago Card Plus customers who purchase a Ventra Card from a vending machine or retailer will be able to transfer their Chicago Card Plus balance online after registering their new card. (This excludes Transit Benefits customers, who will receive instructions through their employers on how to transition to Ventra if they have not yet done so.)
Later this spring, customers who wish to transfer unused balances on Chicago Card and magnetic stripe fare cards will have the option of mailing in their old cards and having any unused balance transferred to their registered Ventra Card. This will exclude unlimited-ride 1-day, 3-day, 7-day and 30-day pass products, which must be used up in advance of the full transition. The CTA will provide more details about the mail-in option later this spring.