Ventra CTA Cards Get Mixed Response

New fare system for CTA, Pace unveiled Monday

Transit officials appear to be still working out the bugs Monday, the first day most Chicago-area commuters were able to purchase Ventra cards, the new fare system for buses and trains in the city.

Vending machines are located in Chicago Transit Authority train stations and in more than 700 area retailers, including CVS, Jewel Osco and Walgreens stores. The website has a search function to find a nearby retailer.

"It's faster to get on the train, because people be taking too long with the transit card," commuter Luis Cortes said.

But not everyone is a fan. Cameron Davis was part of initial rollout that included U-Pass users and CPS students and he says the new system is great -- when it works.

"My friend had to argue with his bus driver. He refused to get off, he was like, 'Do you want me to call the school? I go there, this is a legitimate card," Smith said.

The cost for a Ventra card is $5, but that charge is credited back to the user when the commuter registers the new card. Remaining balances on existing transit cards, as well as Chicago Cards and Chicago Plus Cards, can be transferred to a commuter's new Ventra card, officials said.

With the launch, the CTA will stop issuing new Chicago Cards. The agency stopped issuing Chicago Plus Cards last month. Still, commuters that have those cards can continue to use them until Nov. 15.

On Dec. 15, CTA and Pace will no longer accept the fare cards with magnetic stripes.

CTA officials said Ventra is expected to save the agency more than $50 million over 12 years. The CTA was awarded the $454 million contract in November 2011. Pace joined in July 2012. Both transit authorities will pay Cubic Transportation Systems, the creator of the system, a monthly fee and fee per paid fare.

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