CTA riders cannot buy, load old fare cards as Ventra switch continues

CTA riders can no longer buy or load the old magnetic stripe cards as of May 1. (WLS)
May 1, 2014 3:27:22 PM PDT
The days of using magnetic-stripe fare cards on the CTA are winding down.

Sales and re-loading of Chicago Card or Chicago Card Plus ended Thursday as the agency works to complete its transition to the Ventra fare system.

Old habits, however, have been hard for some CTA riders to break.

"I'm hanging on until they say, 'Hey lady, you can't use that,'" said Nikki Green, a CTA rider.

The CTA said riders using the magnetic-stripe cards can transfer balances to a new Ventra card.

"It has met our expectations since the first of the year, which is good," said Tammy Chase, CTA spokeswoman. "Customers are now having the seamless experience that they were promised."

The CTA began transitioning to Ventra last fall. But there some bumps, such as cards not working and riders being overcharged.

"We put a pause on the transition at that time because of the numerous issues we were having with how the system was reading cards, customer call center issues," Chase said. "We have thankfully worked through all of those."

CTA rider Rob Durkee said he was among those who found extra charges to his Ventra card.

"I was just tapping my wallet on the Ventra port and it was charging me money to my credit card for some reason," Durkee said.

Durkee was able to get the charges dropped, and now knows to have his Ventra card ready by itself - not holding credit or debit cards that also have a radio frequency ID chip near the Ventra reader.

"It saves a little bit of time, but frankly, I don't think it's any more or less impressive than sliding it through the slot like you did in the old days," Durkee said.

The full transition to the new fare payment system is set for July 1.

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