After a lengthy rehearsal, Ventra is ready for prime-time this summer, Pace and CTA leaders announced Friday.
The rollout of the new fare system in 2013 was less than stellar with customers reporting problems with the cards at entry points, technical issues online plus long waits for customer service. As a result, the agencies delayed the transition.
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The glitches have been cleared up and improvements to software and customer service are in place, the CTA and Pace reported.
That means old magnetic stripe cards will be phased out effective July 1 and passengers will need Ventra cards. Cash will still be accepted on buses.
"For the last three months, Ventra has performed well overall, and is used by more than one million riders each day," CTA President Forrest Claypool said in a statement.
Here's a look at some approaching deadlines:
• As of May 1, customers will no longer be able to purchase magnetic stripe cards or reload Chicago Card or Chicago Card Plus.
• As of June 1, riders will no longer be able to reload magnetic stripe cards or use Chicago Card or Chicago Card Plus.
• Effective July 1, customers will no longer be able to use magnetic stripe cards. Pace riders who pay with cash will no longer receive transfers.
Pace will be carrying out a "grass-roots campaign" to inform riders about upcoming changes, officials said.
"Our spring and summer outreach will involve having staff not only at major transit centers but also other transfer points such as shopping centers or schools to try to reach even more riders," Pace spokesman Patrick Wilmot said.
The agency intends to hand out free Ventra cards between now and July 1. Riders are encouraged to order Ventra cards online or by phone or purchase at retail locations, Wilmot said. Pace is also expected to deploy some Ventra vending machines in the suburbs soon, although riders can purchase cards at CTA stations.