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CTA mailing out 15,000 Ventra cards a day

September 09, 2013|By Tracy Swartz, @tracyswartz | RedEye

Ventra, the CTA's new fare payment system, became available to all CTA and Pace riders on Monday, but some riders complained they didn't get carded.

Dozens of riders grumbled on Twitter and Facebook that they had not received their Ventra cards in the mail despite responding to at least one CTA email to confirm their addresses.

The CTA said there were 100,000 Ventra cards in use as of Friday, with more than 30,000 cards in the mail. About 15,000 Ventra cards are being mailed out each day, the CTA said.

The first Ventra users—some university students, Chicago Public Schools students and CTA employees—began using their cards a month ago.

"We have been mailing them out gradually," CTA spokeswoman Tammy Chase said. "The card is coming. Many customers have gotten at least one or two emails. They are on their way."

Ventra is slowly replacing the Chicago Card and disposable magnetic-stripe card systems. Chicago Card users need to transition to Ventra by Nov. 15. Disposable cards won't be accepted on the CTA after Dec. 15.

But some users may find it difficult to stick with their current cards until then. Vending machines at rail stations are being replaced with Ventra machines. Some of the old machines that remain don't even work, which may persuade some riders to turn to Ventra before they are ready to switch.

This may be a problem for tourists and occasional riders who may not be aware that they pay $2.25 under the current system for a single rail ride ticket and $3 if they use a Ventra machine for the same ticket.

Chase described the first day of widespread Ventra use as "very smooth." The agency has had workers at stations talking to riders about the new system and answering questions.

"We know we're just at the beginning of really educating people about Ventra," Chase said. "It's time for people, if they haven't paid attention yet, to start paying attention."

Express yourself

The Metropolitan Planning Council, a civic group, is hosting a panel Wednesday about bus rapid transit, a form of express bus service that is coming to the Loop and Ashland Avenue. The event will be held from noon to 1:30 p.m., 140 S. Dearborn St., Suite 1400. Go to metroplanning.org for more information.

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