The CTA and Pace remind customers that as of this Sunday, June 1, they will no longer be able to use Chicago Card or Chicago Card Plus or re-load any magnetic stripe fare card.
Most customers have already switched to Ventra, with 92 percent of CTA and 65 percent of Pace rides now taken with Ventra.
The CTA and Pace will complete the full transition to Ventra on July 1. Riders will not be able to use old fare cards from that point forward. Instead, riders can use Ventra products or personal contactless debit and credit cards on bus and rail. They can also continue to pay with cash on buses only.
For customers who still need to transition, or for those who need to transfer balances from old fare cards to Ventra:
- 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) NOW VENTRA. Ventra ambassadors will help customers at select CTA rail stations the week of June 1.
- $5 Ventra Card fee continues to be waived at retailers until July 7. The $5 one-time new card fee is waived at the more than 1,000 drugstores, currency exchanges and other conveniently located retailers throughout the Chicago region that offer sales of Ventra Cards. The $5 fee also continues to be waived for all online and phone orders for Ventra Cards. Ventra Cards obtained at vending machines in CTA rail stations require a $5 one-time new card fee, which is immediately refunded as transit value upon registration of the card.
- Weekly customer service/balance transfer events. Ventra continues to host customer service balance transfer events every Tuesday at CTA headquarters, 567 W. Lake St., Chicago, from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m., through June 24. Customers have 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, too, 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 be held on Saturday, June 7, at the Cicero Public Library, 5225 W. Cermak, Cicero; Wednesday, June 11, at John Marshall High School, 3250 W. Monroe; and Friday, June 20 at Avalon Park Library, 8148 S. Stony Island. Details of all balance transfer events are listed at ventrachicago.com.
- Mail-in option. The CTA will provide the opportunity for customers to mail in certain transit cards, Chicago Cards and magnetic stripe permits to have their balances transferred to registered Ventra card beginning June 1, 2014. Forms and instructions will be made available on buses, in rail stations and online at transitchicago.com. Old farecards will be accepted for a balance transfer to a registered Ventra card through September 1, 2014.
- Chicago Card Plus online balance transfers. Chicago Card Plus customers can continue to transfer their balances to a Ventra account 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 initial 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.
- Students. Chicago Public Schools and other students who have not yet obtained a student Ventra card will need to get one from their school administrator to continue to receive discounted CTA student fares, because students will no longer be able to reload the light blue magnetic stripe Student Reduced Fare Transit Card as of June 1. Students will be able to use any remaining balance left on their old magnetic stripe cards to ride CTA through the end of this school year. The CTA has been working closely with school administrators to help students make the transition to Ventra.
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.
CTA fare cards eligible for the 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. Customers must have a combined minimum of $5 of transit value on one or more cards to have them transferred to Ventra, and balances from no more than eight CTA fare cards can be transferred to Ventra. RTA reduced and free ride customers can also use the mail-in option. Balances will be transferred within 30 days of receipt of mail-in request forms.
A mail-in option is available for Pace-only tickets and passes. Please visit PaceBus.com/Ventra for details.
Pace recently announced 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. Please visit PaceBus.com/Ventra for a full list of dates and locations.
Customers can visit ventrachicago.com for complete balance transfer rules and event dates, how-to-videos and frequently asked questions.