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Saturday’s the deadline to reload CTA magnetic-stripe cards

A Ventrtransit card reader.

A Ventra transit card reader.

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Updated: July 1, 2014 6:21AM

Saturday is the last day that CTA riders can reload their magnetic-stripe transit cards and use any Chicago Card or Chicago Card Plus.

Then, come July 1, the magnetic-stripe cards will be history, as the CTA completes its sometimes-bumpy, nearly year-long conversion to the Ventra payment system.

Bus and Lriders stuck with oddball amounts on old magnetic-stripe cards have only through the end of the day Saturday to load those cards to a full fare amount.

On Sunday,the machines for those cards will be turned off.

During June, riders clinging to old fare cards will still have a chance to transfer a minimum of $5 in balances to new Ventra cards at periodic special events. After that, a mail-in option will be available through Sept. 1.

More than 90 percent of CTA bus and L rides and nearly two-thirds of suburban Pace bus rides are now being purchased with Ventra cards, CTA officials say.

The chip in old Chicago Cards, once also used in the now-antique Game Boy video system, is no longer being produced.

Riders who have yet to make the Ventra switch can do so without paying a $5 purchase fee if they buy a Ventra card before July 7 at retail outlets, by phone or online. Ventra cards bought at L station vending machines will tack on a $5 purchase fee, but that can be converted into transit credit by registering the card.

Bus riders will still be able to throw cash into busfare collectors and pay nothing extra to do so. L riders can use a Ventra card or a credit or debit card with a radio frequency identification, or RFID, chip.

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