Ventra transition frustrates some Northwestern students


Photo illustration by Chelsea Sherlock

Amy Whyte, Assistant Campus Editor

As the Chicago Transit Authority continues its complete transition to the Ventra payment system, not all Northwestern students are convinced the change is for the better.

As opposed to magnetic stripe cards — which riders insert into fare boxes and often throw out after use — Ventra cards allow for tap-and-go payment. However, moving to the new system has led to some rider frustrations, from cards not working properly to people not receiving their passes at all.

Yeshi Xie, who commutes frequently between Evanston and Chicago for a Chicago Field Studies internship, said she often has issues getting her Ventra card to scan at the turnstile.

“I keep having to do it two or three times before it lets me go through,” the Weinberg junior said. “So that’s a problem.”

What students need to know about CTA’s new Ventra system

More than 500,000 registered cards have made more than 15 million taps, the CTA tweeted Monday. The system allows customers to reload their Ventra cards online or by phone or even link their card to an existing debit card.

Medill senior Erin Nelson said she has yet to receive her Ventra card, which should have shipped four weeks ago.

She said she recently received an email asking her to activate her card even though she hasn’t received it.

Though Nelson continues to use her Chicago Card, she hopes she will receive her card soon to ease the commute to her Journalism Residency site.

“I think that it’s a really good system and I think it will make travel a lot easier,” she said. “Maybe not necessarily for people who don’t travel frequently, but for people who are commuting every day, I think the Ventra card is a really good improvement.”

Ventra reminds Weinberg senior Diana Gold of the SmarTrip cards she uses for public transportation in Washington, D.C. She said she thought the new card was convenient and has not had any problems so far.

“I’ve probably used it around eight times, and it’s been fine,” she said.

Riders can no longer travel with Chicago Cards beginning Nov. 15 and magnetic stripe ones as of Dec. 15.

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