www.redeyechicago.com/news/cta/redeye-cta-to-launch-ventra-in-august-20130625,0,7475804.story

redeyechicago.com

CTA to launch Ventra in August

By Tracy Swartz, @tracyswartz

RedEye

2:30 PM CDT, June 25, 2013

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The CTA will launch its new payment system Ventra in August, the agency said Tuesday.

In August, Chicago Card Plus users, registered Chicago Card users and students participating in the CTA's U-Pass schools program will be able to transition to Ventra.

In September, all CTA riders will be able to use Ventra, the agency said. The CTA will accept Chicago Cards and other passes through the end of the year.

Ventra will replace the current Chicago Card system. The CTA also is phasing out its disposable passes. Users will be able to tap Ventra cards at bus and train readers.

Riders can sign up for a Ventra card that's pay-per-ride or unlimited use or a Ventra debit card that can be used for non-transit purchases.

Cash will still be allowed on buses. Base fares for Ventra will not change but single-ticket riders will pay $3 per train ride.

The CTA initially said it would cost $5 to sign up for a Ventra card. The sign-up cost would have become a transit credit.

The CTA said last month it will waive the $5 fee if riders obtain the card this year. Riders will be charged $5 if they sign up for the card next year, and the fee can be applied to future transit service.

The CTA on Tuesday announced its roll-out timetable:

>> In July, Chicago Card Plus and registered Chicago Card riders will be notified of the transition to Ventra, and a few weeks later they will receive their new Ventra cards in the mail. Pace and CTA will also hold outreach events including mobile Ventra buses for demonstrations on how to use the card.

>> In August, Chicago Card Plus, registered Chicago Card users and U-Pass, Chicago Public Schools and Chicagoland students will begin the transition to Ventra.

>> In September, all CTA and Pace fixed route bus riders will be able to use Ventra. In the meantime, current fare media will be phased out.

Full transition is expected to be complete in December. CTA and Pace riders will have through Spring 2014 to transfer balances on their old fare cards to Ventra Cards.