Ventra uses a radio signal built into the cards, so it's just tap and go when boarding a bus or going through the train turnstile.
"It helps people to protect their balances if they lose or have their cards stolen. So that's a big advantage. But, really, one of the big things for suburban riders is there [are] only about 50 places throughout the suburbs where you can go and buy cards. When we transition to Ventra that number will grow to 500," Patrick Wilmot, PACE, said.
Also, riders who don't want a Ventra card can use any credit or debit card that has a radio-like symbol to pay for a ride.
Eventually, Ventra will replace all of the flimsy, magnetic strip cards and registered Chicago and Chicago Plus cards. CTA says the third-party Ventra system will save the agency $50 million over the next 10 years.
"Say goodbye to those magnetic strip cards. They are ending their useful life. The machines we have in place that take those cards that dip into the turn style reader they cost money to maintain," Lambrini Lukidis, CTA, said.
The Ventra card costs $5 at a station, but that money goes toward your transit fare. The $5 fee is waived until December if purchased at ventrachicago.com or if by calling 1-877-NOW VENTRA.
"This is my first time using it so I don't know what to think yet," William Frye, CTA rider, said.
"It's an easy transition for me but maybe not for others. I hope it remains easy enough for everyone to take the bus and the train," Miriam Dolnick, CTA rider, said.
"I already have the Chicago Plus Card, which I get through my employers and they'll switch it, so it really doesn't affect me much," Mario Kattengell, CTA rider, said.
Transit riders who have a Chicago Card or Chicago Card Plus don't have to do anything to move to Ventra. They will receive a free Ventra card in the mail, and the balance will be transferred.
Riders can use the other cards until December 15, 2013, when Ventra becomes the only option.