CTA spokeswoman Tammy Chase said the new Ventra system, which already has machines in stations, will operate much like the current Chicago Card.
But rail riders using cash will be charged an automatic 25 cents for a transfer, whether it will be used or not, as well as a 50-cent "limited-use fee," in addition to the standing $2.25 for the ride — for a total of $3.
That cost, Chase said, reflects the cost of the paper ticket, embedded with a chip, that one-time riders will use to go through the turnstile. That will replace the magnetic-strip cards currently in use.
"It's just the way that product is set up," Chase said of the mandatory transfer. "There are plenty of easy ways to avoid this fee."
CTA and Pace riders will be able to use Ventra cards, or even their own personal credit or debit cards, to "tap and go" on trains and buses. Ventra will automatically deduct fares from bank cards, which won't need to be registered in advance.
Cash bus rides will remain $2.25, as buses will still be equipped with cash boxes not found in rail stations. Again, there are no transfers available with cash bus rides.
Chase emphasized that one-time cash users constitute a small segment of CTA rail ridership — about 4 percent, or one rider in 25. They're encouraged to get a Ventra card or use a credit/debit card.
Seniors using magnetic-strip cards will be issued Ventra cards for reduced or free fares, whichever they qualify for.
The CTA plans an evening hearing on the Ventra issue March 11, with a location yet to be determined. Once addressed in the hearing, the Ventra system will have to be authorized by the CTA Board before it takes effect, but Chase said that approval should come this spring.