CTA & Pace Remind Customers of Important May 1 Milestone in Ventra Transition

April 21, 2014

Chicago – In the next major step of the transition to the Ventra fare payment system, the CTA and Pace today reminded customers of important changes that will take effect on Thursday, May 1:

  • CTA customers will no longer be able to buy magnetic stripe fare cards
  • Customers will no longer be able to autoload/reload Chicago Card/Chicago Card Plus


Currently, 84 percent of all CTA rides and 60 percent of Pace rides are taken with Ventra. There have been more than 153 million Ventra taps across the CTA and Pace systems.

CTA and Pace will complete the full transition to Ventra on July 1.

To assist customers who still need to transition:

  • Get a Ventra Card. Customers can easily obtain a Ventra Card at vending machines at CTA’s 145 rail stations; at more than 1,000 retail locations in Chicago and the suburbs; online at ventrachicago.com; and over the phone at (877) VENTRA NOW. Look for Ventra ambassadors at select CTA rail stations the week of April 28 to also assist customers in their transition to Ventra.
  • $5 Ventra Card fee waived at retailers. To further help customers begin using Ventra, the $5 one-time new card fee will now be waived through July 7 at all of the more than 1,000 drugstore, currency exchanges and other conveniently located retailers throughout the Chicago region that offer sales of Ventra Cards. The $5 fee will continue to be waived on all online and phone orders for Ventra Cards. Ventra Cards obtained at vending machines in CTA rail stations still require a $5 one-time new card fee, which is immediately refunded as transit value upon registration.
  • Weekly customer service/balance transfer events. Ventra continues to host numerous customer service balance transfer events throughout the city until July 1. These events are held every Tuesday at CTA headquarters, 567 W. Lake St., Chicago, from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. These events, as well as community events listed below and on ventrachicago.com, provide customers the opportunity to 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. Assistance is available at these events for customers who have been issued Reduced Fare and Ride Free Permits by the Regional Transportation Authority (RTA).
  • Community events. Customer service balance transfer events will also be held on Thursday, May 8 at the Jefferson Park Library, 5363 W. Lawrence Ave., from 12:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m.; and on Saturday, May 10, at Curie High School (cafeteria), 4959 S. Archer Ave., from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Additional events in June are listed at ventrachicago.com.
  • Chicago Card Plus online balance transfers. Chicago Card Plus customers can easily transfer their balances to Ventra online at ventrachicago.com. Chicago Card Plus customers who have not yet transitioned to Ventra can purchase a Ventra Card from a vending machine or retailer and transfer their Chicago Card Plus balance online after registering their new card. That process will also include registration of their card (allows the $5 fee to be converted into fare value on their card if purchased from a vending machine) and provides them with the benefits of registration, including balance protection and online account management.


Customers attending balance transfer events 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 cannot be transferred to Ventra cards and must be used up before July 1.   Expired fare media will not be accepted. RTA reduced-fare permit holders must bring in their new Ventra RTA reduced-fare permit for a 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 and have their questions answered.

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 unexpired 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. A mail-in option is available for Pace-only tickets and passes. Please visit PaceBus.com/Ventra for details.

The next major deadline in the Ventra transition is June 1, when customers can no longer reload magnetic stripe cards or use Chicago Card/Chicago Card Plus.

Customers can visit ventrachicago.com for complete balance transfer rules and event dates, how-to-videos and frequently asked questions.



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