CTA no longer selling flimsy, magnetic-striped fare cards

October 7, 2013 8:52:52 PM PDT
The Chicago Transit Authority is phasing out the flimsy, magnetic-striped cards to make way for the new Ventra card system.

The magnetic cards are no longer for sale, but transit passengers can continue to reload and use their existing cards- for now. Commuters can use the machines at train stations to reload the magnetic cards until November 15; and transit riders have until December 15 to use up the balance. After that, the cards go away.

"I like what I have. Why do I want to change it? It works for me fine," Jim Halstead, CTA rider, said. The CTA says 75-percent of their riders use the magnetic stripe cards.

"I guess they're forcing it, you know. That's how they force it on people. So I am sure we can still keep hanging on to these as long as we can," Robyn Linde, CTA rider, said.

Ventra cards cost $5 at a machine at a station, but that money will be transferred to a fare once the card is registered online. The card is free when ordered online.

"They say it's a lot easier because you can just basically purchase it on line and add credits to it. I have been doing it and having a hard time and then calling the representative is a 40 minute wait so it is just a hassle," Angie Elizara, CTA rider, said.

"What we are trying to do with Ventra is consolidate almost 30 different types of fare media that are out there. So you know this makes it a lot easier for people and to not have to worry about which fare card they have in their wallet which one they're using which one expires, this should be able to streamline all of that," Lambrini Lukidis, CTA spokesperson, said.

The new Ventra system is up and running, but there are some complaints about the system. The CTA calls the Ventra system a streamlined way to pay. Ventra has two options: a Ventra card, which uses a radio frequency chip; or a personal debit or credit card that has the same technology.

"I really like it because you don't have to put it in a machine," Evan Swanson said. "A lot faster."

"Now, it is a good way to keep track of it, as well quicker way to get on train," Derrick Robinson, CTA rider, said.

CTA's Chicago Card, Chicago Card Plus

The harder, plastic fare cards -- Chicago Card and Chicago Card Plus -- can be used until November 15. A Ventra card has already been mailed out to those users, and the balances can be transferred.

If your Chicago Plus Card is loaded through work, it will now go on to the Ventra card. Also as of Monday, transit users can no longer re-load Chicago Cards at train stations.


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