Pace announces mail-in program to transfer unused Ventra balances

Pace announces mail-in program to transfer unused Ventra balances (Tribune illustration / October 23, 2013)

The suburban bus agency Pace on Wednesday announced a mail-in program to transfer unused balances to Ventra accounts, with less than two months before the new transit payment system replaces all Pace and CTA magnetic stripe fare cards.

The transfer policy is limited, however. Only completely unused and unexpired Pace 10-ride Plus tickets (both the regular and reduced-fare versions) and Commuter Club Cards can be transferred to a Ventra transit account, through Dec. 31, officials with the bus agency said. No cash refunds will be provided, officials added.

It means that commuters among Pace's 124,000 weekday riders who have as few as one use on a ticket or card are ineligible for a balance transfer and should use up the passes before Dec. 15, when both the CTA and Pace will stop accepting magnetic stripe stored-value cards, including the Pace 10-ride ticket.

The deadline for mailing the form is Dec. 31. Pace will need up to 45 days, though in many cases less, to process the credit to the customer's Ventra account, officials said.

Also effective Dec. 15, Pace customers who buy a 25-cent transfer on the bus using cash will no longer be permitted to do so. Transfers will be sold to customers paying with a Ventra card. Riders using cash face paying a full fare for each ride, officials said.

Pace customers seeking to transfer balances to Ventra should start by downloading a fare-media customer balance-transfer form at pacebus.com/ventra. After purchasing a Ventra card and establishing a Ventra account, the next step is to complete the instructions for mailing the balance-transfer form and unused passes to Pace, officials said. Customers must include their Ventra account number on the form to receive the balance-transfer credit.

The Pace Commuter Club Card is a 30-day unlimited-ride pass valid only on Pace. The card still will be available to customers who put it on their Ventra card. The Pace 10-ride Plus ticket, which offers 11 rides for the price of 10, is being discontinued due to declining sales, Pace said. Sales of the 10-ride tickets are to end Nov. 18, and they will no longer be accepted for use starting Dec. 15.

Pace also has consolidated its Student Haul Pass, which is a monthly pass sold to students through high school age, into a Pace 30-day reduced-fare pass. Beginning in December, students will be able to purchase the 30-day reduced-fare pass on the Ventra system for the same $30 charge, officials said.

In addition, Pace soon will be receiving 12 Ventra fare card vending machines that will be deployed at high-traffic locations, including transit centers in Elgin, Waukegan, Joliet and Aurora, Pace spokesman Patrick Wilmot said. A single-ride Pace ticket purchased from a Ventra vending machine will cost $2 instead of the regular $1.75 fare, but the $2 fare will include a transfer, regardless of whether the rider needs one.

jhilkevitch@tribune.com

Twitter @jhilkevitch