Riders who wave their wallets at Ventra Card readers are getting an unexpected surprise. The machine is also charging their debit cards. NBC 5’s Kim Vatis reports on why it’s happening and what the CTA has to say.
The new fare-payment system for the Chicago Transit Authority and Pace has caused a few financial headaches for commuters who find the wrong account has been charged for their ride.
The issue can present itself for anyone who has both a Ventra card and another credit or debit card equipped with a chip for radio frequency identification, or RFID. Such cards have a "wave" symbol on them.
If a commuter walks up to a touch pad, the Ventra system will charge the fare to whichever RFID-equipped card it locks onto first.
"It's not a glitch. The system is actually functioning the way it's supposed to," explained Lambrini Lukidis, a CTA spokeswoman.
The Ventra system allows a commuter to pay a fare without carrying a Ventra card or even having a Ventra account. A bank card with an RFID chip is all that's needed. It's a new issue for Chicago commuters; the soon-to-be-abandoned Chicago Card and Chicago Plus Card wasn't affected because that was a "closed system," Lukidis explained.
Contrary to some social media chatter however, Lukidis said she was unaware of any rider being charged multiple times for a single ride.
DePaul University officials were among those who took to social media to alert commuters that an unintended card could be charged for fare payment.
Students: Ventra charges 1st touch-enabled card it senses. If you have touch debit/credit card, take U-Pass out of wallet to use.
— DePaul University (@DePaulU) September 12, 2013
Commuters who find they've been charged a fare on the "wrong" account should place a call to Ventra Customer Service at 877-NOW-VENTRA.
The Ventra system officially launched earlier this week and will completely replace the cards with magnetic stripes as well as Chicago Card and Chicago Plus Cards by the end of the year.
Lukidis said the Ventra system has already had more than two million taps since it debuted.