CTA and Pace complete transition to Ventra


Daily file photo by Nathan Richards

A passenger uses her Ventra card to pay for a ride on the CTA. CTA and PACE completed their transition to Ventra Tuesday.

Stephanie Kelly, Reporter

The Chicago Transit Authority and Pace officially completed their transition Tuesday to Ventra and will no longer be accepting old transit fare cards.

All payments must be made with a Ventra card or a contactless debit or credit card. Cash will only be accepted on buses.

In 2009, the state legislature required a universal fare system, and Pace and CTA both agreed to adopt Ventra, said Lambrini Lukidis, a spokesperson for CTA. In addition, Lukidis said the technology used in the past was outdated, further inciting the switch.

“This is a more modern fare payment system,” Lukidis said. “It allows for personal account management, so now anybody who’s registered can go online and track their usage, their history.”

Customers can also now reload funds at rail stations, through a customer service phone line or online by themselves.

“It’s really a lot more convenient for people,” Lukidis said.

The new system is account based, which means customers can load funds onto either a contactless debit or credit card or a Ventra card. They can use the same card to ride anywhere, creating an open-looped system, Lukidis said.

Because of this, there are more security features, said Patrick Wilmot, a spokesperson for Pace. Customers can now retrieve funds if they lose their Ventra card.

At the beginning of the transition, Lukidis said the system had so many glitches they paused its progression. However, after developing in March a plan for a “soft rollout,” she said they decided July 1 would be a reasonable amount of time to complete the change.

“It’s something that people need to get used to,” Lukidis said. “They’re used to having cards that are disposable, and this is a card that they need to hang onto.”

Since March, Lukidis said the transition has exceeded their expectations. As of June 26, 98 percent of rides were paid for with Ventra, either with tickets or personal bank cards. There are now talks with Metra to begin using Ventra as well, Lukidis said.

“There’s a lot of benefits to it,” she said. “There’s a lot more flexibility for our customers.”

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