CHICAGO (CBS) — The CTA has finally declared the Ventra card ready.
On Friday, it announced a three-phased changeover that will retire the last of the older magnetic stripe and Chicago Cards by July 1.
About May 1, CTA will halt sale of magnetic stripe cards and riders no longer will be able to reload a Chicago Card or Chicago Card Plus. On June 1, remaining Chicago Cards will be shut off and riders will no longer be able to reload magnetic stripe cards.
On July 1, the magnetic stripe cards will be shut off and the transition will be complete. On that date, Pace will no longer issue transfer cards on its bus lines.
CTA spokesperson Catherine Hosinski says riders will be given a number of chances to transfer balances from old fare cards onto Ventra cards.
When Ventra was first unveiled in September, there were massive teething problems. The problems ranged from card readers that did not work properly to cards that continued to work at turnstiles even when carrying massive negative balances. Frustrated and angry riders waited hours on undermanned phone lines to get answers.
Many riders delayed their switch because of Ventra’s problems. But Hosinski said that 81 percent of CTA customers and nearly 60 percent of Pace riders now use Ventra.
Riders also will be able to use credit cards with so-called “smart chips” in them to pay fares.
Cash won’t completely disappear from CTA or Pace bus lines. Both will continue to accept cash for bus fare, but any transfer to other bus lines or to the ‘L’ will require the use of a Ventra card. Ventra also has a debit card feature.