Ready or not, riders, Ventra transition is arriving on schedule this time.
The CTA is set to complete its first of three Ventra transition deadlines this week. Starting Thursday, CTA riders can no longer load their Chicago Cards or buy disposable magnetic stripe cards.
That means time is running out for Ventra procrastinators or haters to make the switch. The second transition deadline is June 1, when riders cannot use Chicago Cards or buy disposable plastic cards. Starting July 1, only Ventra will be accepted on the CTA (though cash will still be allowed on buses).
The CTA previously relaxed these deadlines so Ventra vendor Cubic Transportation Systems could iron out glitches the CTA said have now been fixed.
Going Public has a few tips for riders who have not converted to Ventra and riders who have switched to Ventra but may have forgotten to transfer their previous fare balances.
If you have a Chicago Card
Even if you transitioned to Ventra, make sure you did not leave any cash balance behind on your Chicago Card or Chicago Card Plus.
If you use a Chicago Card Plus, you can transfer your balance at ventrachicago.com. If you have a Chicago Card Plus and did not receive a Ventra card, buy one at a retailer and transfer your balance.
If you use a Chicago Card, you can transfer your balance to your Ventra card from 3 to 7 p.m. every Tuesday at CTA headquarters, 567 W. Lake St.
If you have a disposable card
If you have a balance left on your disposable card, use it before July 1. If you don't think you can use it before then, or you want the money on your Ventra card, visit CTA headquarters on a Tuesday from 3 to 7 p.m.
At these CTA events, riders can bring a maximum of five fare cards with a combined minimum of $5 in transit value. Riders can not transfer their unlimited ride passes to Ventra.
If you want a Ventra card
The CTA is waiving its $5 new card fee through July 7 for riders who purchase cards at more than 1,000 Chicago-area retailers. A list of retailers is available at ventrachicago.com.
Riders who purchase cards at CTA stations will have to pay the $5 fee, which they can get back as stored transit value if they register their card.