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CTA to start new Ventra card payment system in August

The CTA will start rolling out its new Ventra payment system in August according to a timetable released Tuesday.

By September, all CTA and Pace customers systemwide will be able to use the new plastic cards, which will have a special chip that allows riders to just “tap” their cards at L stations and on buses to pay their fares.

The Ventra system will let users store value on the cards, which also can function as a debit card if riders choose that option. But fees associated with the debit function have raised controversy.

The new payment system is described as an “open” one because it also allows riders to use other credit or debit cards for payment if they contain special “contactless chips.” Only a small minority of such cards have the chips, experts say.

Under a timetable unveiled Tuesday:

◆ In July, about 400,000 Chicago Card Plus and Chicago Card customers will receive mailed or emailed notices that their Ventra cards will soon arrive in the mail. From July through December, mobile Ventra informational buses will hand out Ventra cards with a $5 purchase fee already stored on them.

◆ In August, Chicago Card Plus users; registered Chicago Card users; college students with U-Passes, and certain Chicago Public School students will be invited to start using Ventra cards.

◆ By September, all CTA and Pace customers can start using Ventra cards or their own contactless credit or debit cards to pay their fares. Old fare cards will still be accepted, and customers can start transferring stored value from any old cards, including paper ones with magnetic stripes, to their Ventra cards.

◆ In December, before the Christmas holidays, all old fare cards will be phased out and only payment by Ventra cards or contactless credit or debit cards will be accepted.

More information is available at

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