Ventra tips for CTA procrastinators

Ventra tips for CTA procrastinators

  • By Tracy Swartz

    For the 20 percent of CTA riders who have not yet transitioned to Ventra, it’s time to think about switching to the new transit fare payment system.

    The CTA on Friday announced a timetable to fully transition its riders to Ventra by July 1. Chicago Card users will not be able to autoload their Chicago Cards starting May 1 and will not be allowed to use those cards starting June 1.

    Magnetic stripe card users will not be buy the cards starting May 1 or reload them starting June 1.
    Ventra is used to pay for about 81 percent of CTA rides as of March 8, according to CTA data. The CTA has been hovering around the 80 percent Ventra usage mark since late January.

    The agency was supposed to fully transition to Ventra in December but slowed the process so Ventra vendor Cubic Transportation Systems could work out glitches.

    For riders who have not yet transitioned or who expect out-of-town guests this summer, RedEye has a few tips for signing up for Ventra.

    >> If you have a Chicago Card:
    Chicago Card Plus users should be able to buy a Ventra card at a retailer or vending machine this week and have their balances transferred after they register their card at
    Riders with an unregistered Chicago Card can purchase a Ventra card and have their Chicago Card monetary balances transferred at an in-person event or by mailing in their Chicago Cards in late spring. A balance transfer event will be held from 3-7 p.m. Tuesday at CTA headquarters, 567 W. Lake St. This option only works for monetary balances, not unlimited ride cards.

    >> If you use a magnetic stripe card:
    Time to find those old cards laying around the house and use them up before July. Riders can bring a maximum of five of these cards with a combined minimum of $5 to a CTA event in the spring to have this money transferred to a Ventra card. Riders will also be able to mail in these cards to have their monetary balance transferred.

    >> If you have guests visiting this summer:
    Consider having an extra Ventra card to keep for friends or family who visit so they can avoid the $5 purchase fee and registration process to get that fee back as transit credit. Advise guests who have magnetic stripe cards to use them up on their next visit or mail them to you.

    Green with envy
    Chicagoans can vote until Friday for the Morgan Green and Pink Line stop on the Near West Side, which is up for an architecture award hosted by Architizer, an online architecture database. Go to to vote.

    Art of Chicago
    The CTA is holding events this week for South Side residents to meet with artists who will be creating works for eight southern Red Line stations that were overhauled last year. Go to for a list of the meeting dates and locations.
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