Chicago Transit Authority, Pace switch to new payment system

Ventra pay pads have been installed on turnstiles at the Davis CTA station. The Ventra card, which will streamline paying for trains, will be introduced to the CTA this summer.

Melody Song/Daily Senior Staffer

Ventra pay pads have been installed on turnstiles at the Davis CTA station. The Ventra card, which will streamline paying for trains, will be introduced to the CTA this summer.

Amanda Gilbert, Reporter

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The Chicago Transit Authority and Pace will transition to a new payment system known as Ventra this summer.

CTA spokeswoman Lambrini Lukidis said the new system will allow more than 1.6 million transit riders, including Evanston customers, to use a single Ventra card or their credit and debit cards to to travel throughout the Chicago area. It will replace the Chicago Card and Chicago Card Plus next year, Pace announced.

Lukidis said one of the main reasons for the switch was because the technology used by the company that operates Chicago Card Plus will soon become obsolete.

“We wanted something that was going to last long into the future,” Lukidis said. ” We think we’ve been able to find something that is going to be open for everybody.”

With the switch, riders will be able to manage and add money to their Ventra transit accounts at CTA rail stations, online or over the phone. They will be able to buy the new cards at vending machines available in up to 2,500 retail locations in Chicago and surrounding suburbs.

CTA spokeswoman Lambrini Lukidis said the new Ventra vending machines will be more user-friendly. All of the machines will accept cash, credit cards and debit cards. Customers will also be able to buy many different types of passes — such as one-day passes or seven-day passes — in addition to adding value to their transit accounts.

The style of payment will also change because Ventra will no longer use magnetic stripe permits, Lukidis said.

“People can just tap the card instead of having to insert the card into the slot and wait for it to register,” said Lukidis, noting that the “tap” transaction is expected to speed up boarding because it will be faster than inserting the current cards.

The CTA and Pace will accept both Ventra and existing transit fares until the end of the year so customers have enough time to make the switch.

Weinberg sophomore Brad Puder, who rides the train to work at least three times a week, said he is looking forward to the transition to Ventra because it will be easier to use.

“I like that I will be able to add money to my card online now,” Puder said. “It seems like a more modern and easier system to use. Plus you won’t have to worry about losing your card anymore.”

Correction: A previous version of this story misstated the number of transit riders affected by Ventra. It also mischaracterized the procedure for reporting a lost Ventra card. The Daily regrets the errors.

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