Common misconceptions about Ventra

"Ventra will cost CTA riders more to ride"

CTA fares remain the same, and all unlimited-ride pass prices (1-day, 3-day, 7-day, 30-day) remain the same.  CTA is introducing a new fare product—a single-ride disposable ticket—for customers who don’t want to use a reloadable card.  The 50-cent fee for this ticket is avoidable by using any of the other payment options available.

CTA vending machines currently do not provide change, so those without exact change are already paying $3 for a single ride.

"CTA is raising the cash fare"

CTA is not raising the cash fare.

Only the single ride paper ticket will be $3.00 (Including $2.25 for rail, 25 cents for transfer, plus the 50 cents limited use fee).

Cash will be accepted on buses and will cost the same cash base fare of $2.25. Customers can also load cash onto Ventra Cards at vending machines and pay a $2.00 for a single ride. Retail locations will also accept cash for single rides or any other CTA pass and load it to a Ventra Card.

"You must have a credit/debit card or bank account to use Ventra"

No bank account or credit/debit card is required. Customers can link those accounts to the Ventra system to get all the benefits of an account-based system, including online/telephone account management and account notifications, if they choose to do so. These are benefits currently enjoyed by CTA Chicago Card/Chicago Card Plus customers.

However, you can also still use cash to add value or passes to Ventra Cards, buy Ventra Tickets or board the bus with cash.

"Registering the card is time-consuming and inconvenient"

It take just a few minutes to call the 800 number, go online or visit the CTA sales center at 567 W. Lake St.  Registration involves providing basic info:  name, address, phone number, DOB and card number; e-mail address is optional.  If a person walks into a retail location to get a Ventra Card, they can call the 800 number or use their smartphone to quickly register the card, then walk outside and board a bus/train—the value is immediately added.

The biggest benefit of registering: balance protection if card is lost or stolen.  Currently, if a customer loses a mag-stripe card or an unregistered Chicago Card, any value is lost.

"Customers must use a Ventra Card"

Riders can also use their personal credit/debit cards or can purchase a single-ride or 1-day disposable ticket. One of the great things about Ventra is that you can choose which option works best for you, including the option to use a card you may already have in your wallet.

With a Ventra Card, there are some really great options. You'll have a card that you can use for transit and, optionally, use as a prepaid debit card. And whether you use Ventra Cards or your own contactless bankcard, you can use the very same card for both regular pay-as-you-go fares and any unlimited ride transit pass you're using today. There's no need to tie a bankcard to a Ventra Card either--you can pay with cash at machines in every station or at Ventra retailers.

"Low-income riders will be hardest hit"

The CTA is committed to providing accessible and affordable public transit for the Chicago region. The Ventra system is designed to save riders time and money, and provides a unique opportunity to combine transit and retail accounts in one card to give all riders the benefits associated with cashless payments.

The CTA does not believe the one-time $5 purchase of transit value via a Ventra Card will be a barrier to anyone using public transit—especially when a bus round-trip is $4 minimum and a rail round-trip is $4.50.

Further—those using a Ventra Card that’s registered will be provided transit balance protection if a card is lost or stolen—something not available with the current magnetic-stripe cards.


"CTA is privatizing its fare payment system"

CTA maintains full control of all fare policy, meaning CTA sets all fares, not an outside entity.  CTA has contracted for the equipment and processing systems to handle fare payment collections on its behalf.

"The $5 dormancy fee is unfair"

The fee is intended to incentivize continued use of accounts and protect customers losing transit value for which they have already paid.  Customers who register their Ventra Cards now will be notified three months in advance of their accounts reaching dormancy at 18 months.  After 18 months, $5 month would be deducted.

CTA’s current magnetic-stripe cards are only good for 15 months—and CTA has no way of contacting mag-stripe card holders to inform them of the pending expiration.  When a mag-stripe card expires, all remaining balance is lost.