Northwestern Law students offered head start on new CTA payment system

Northwestern Law students will be some of the first to use CTA's new Ventra ticketing system when it debuts Monday.

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Northwestern Law students will be some of the first to use CTA's new Ventra ticketing system when it debuts Monday.

Amanda Gilbert, Summer Reporter

Northwestern Law students will be among the first users of a new payment system for the Chicago Transit Authority when it rolls out next week.

Starting Monday, students from the School of Law, Rush Medical College and Westwood College of Technology will be able to use Ventra cards, single-fare passes for CTA buses and trains.

“We’re excited to welcome the first users and eager to educate all of our customers about the benefits of Ventra, which will replace an outdated, nearly 20-year-old system with a modern, efficient one that will allow faster boarding, account management and balance protection when the card is registered,” CTA President Forrest Claypool said in a statement Monday.

All Chicago Public School students will be able to use the cards the first day of school Aug. 26. The system opens up to everyone else the week of Sept. 9.

The CTA said customers currently using Chicago Card Plus and Chicago Cards will be able to use the new system the week of Aug. 19. Chicago Card users will have to update their current addresses to receive and activate the Ventra cards.

The Ventra cards will replace the current, nearly 20-year-old payment system involving fare cards with magnetic stripes. That method will be phased out by December.

Although the modernized fare system offers benefits, some Evanston residents said they worry about the impact of the new system on low-income riders. The price of a single-ride train ticket will increase form $2.25 to $3.

NU Law student Andrew King said although he receives free passes from his school, many of his friends do not.

“The switch to Ventra doesn’t seem like the greatest change to my friends who are just out of college and take the train to Chicago every day,” King said. “The 75 extra cents every day adds up.”

CTA officials said the extra charge is avoidable if customers purchase a reusable Ventra card for $5.

However, customers may be able to register and use their prepaid debit cards for access to the El. This offer comes with some additional user fees.

Summer reporter Amanda Gilbert can be reached at Follow her on Twitter at