News Column

After 10 months, full transition to Ventra begins Tuesday

June 30, 2014

By Jon Hilkevitch, Chicago Tribune



June 30--Old transit fare cards won't buy rides on the CTA and Pace starting Tuesday with the completion of a sometimes grueling 10-month transition to the new Ventra fare-collection system.

Starting Tuesday, bus customers will be required to pay fares with Ventra cards, cash or contactless credit or debit cards with radio frequency identification technology.

The same rules apply to CTA rail customers, except cash-payers will need to buy a single-ride disposable ticket, which instead of costing the $2.25 regular fare will be priced at $3 and include a two-ride transfer, regardless of whether the rider needs to transfer.

Pace customers who pay with cash will no longer be sold a transfer, meaning that the full fare will be charged for each ride when cash is used. A no-transfer policy when paying with cash already exists on the CTA.

More than 98 percent of CTA riders and about 70 percent of Pace riders have switched to Ventra since the new system was introduced late last summer, officials said.

The Ventra rollout was pocked with technical and customer-service problems that delayed the phase-out of the old transit cards from mid-December until now. CTA president Forrest Claypool, after initially denying the problems were serious, later set conditions for the Ventra contractor, Cubic Transportation Systems Inc., to meet before the transit agency would start payment on the $454 million contract this year.

For procrastinators and others who haven't made the switch to the new fare system, Ventra cards are available at vending machines inside CTA rail stations, at many retail locations in Chicago and the suburbs, online at ventrachicago.com and by calling (877) 669-8368.

The $5 new-card fee will be waived until July 7 at the retail locations and for online and phone orders. Ventra cards issued at vending machines in CTA rail stations require a $5 fee, which is credited toward transit value if the card is registered.

Riders with old transit cards can transfer balances to Ventra cards through Sept. 1, officials said. Mail-in forms are available at transitchicago.com.

CTA fare cards eligible for mail-in balance transfers include unused magnetic stripe 30-day unlimited ride period passes and stored-value fare cards, including magnetic stripe fare cards, Chicago Cards and permits loaded at vending machines. The combined transit value on the cards must be at least $5 and there is an 8-card limit per customer.

RTA reduced-fare and free-ride customers can also use the mail-in option to transfer balances to their RTA-issued reduced-fare or free-ride Ventra cards. A mail-in option is available for Pace-only tickets and passes. Details are at pacebus.com/Ventra.

jhilkevitch@tribune.com

Twitter @jhilkevitch

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(c)2014 the Chicago Tribune

Visit the Chicago Tribune at www.chicagotribune.com

Distributed by MCT Information Services


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Source: Chicago Tribune (IL)


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