A CTA turnstile promotes the coming Ventra fare card system. The card's debit account option has sparked criticsim over its various fees.

A CTA turnstile promotes the coming Ventra fare card system. The card's debit account option has sparked criticsim over its various fees. (John J. Kim / Chicago Tribune / March 20, 2013)

Starting Monday, Chicago Card users can not load money onto their card while disposable card users cannot buy these cards at rail stations.

This deadline, the first in the transition to the CTA's new fare payment system Ventra, does not affect Chicago Card Plus users, who can still autoload their card with value until Nov. 15.

Here are some tips to navigate you through the transition Monday.

>> Expect longer lines at rail stations. The CTA has replaced the Chicago Card and unlimited pass vending machines with Ventra machines, which may prompt confusion. The CTA said they will have extra customer service agents at stations to help riders with the transitions.

>> Anticipate longer call waits on the Ventra hotline. Riders have reported frequent disconnections by Ventra and long hold times, sometimes more than half an hour, to the Ventra customer service number, 877-669-8368. The CTA said it is adding extra people to handle calls after Monday.

>> Evaluate your options before you go. If you missed the deadline to add money to your Chicago Card and you don't have enough money left on your card to ride, you should still be able to get a disposable card at a local retailer. Cash is still accepted on buses, and riders can tap their contactless bank cards on Ventra readers to ride.

>> Wait patiently. The CTA said it recently finished mailing out the last of the Ventra cards to users who verified their complete contact information. Cards are supposed to arrive seven to 10 business days after mailing.


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