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Ventra System Launches in August for Some Transit Riders, CTA Says

 Some city riders can start using Ventra next week.
Some city riders can start using Ventra next week.
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DNAinfo file photos/Ted Cox

CHICAGO — Students will be the first to use the new Ventra system next week, while the rest of the city can start using the new transit cards by Sept. 9, transit officials announced Monday.

Beginning Aug. 5, students at Rush Medical School, Westwood College of Technology and Northwestern University School of Law will get their U-Passes through Ventra, according to CTA.

The arrival of the passes is part of the city's switchover to Ventra, which will replace the current payment system for "L" rides and buses on CTA and Pace lines.

Customers now using Chicago Card Plus and Chicago Card will receive Ventra cards the week of Aug. 19 and can transfer their balances to the card, the CTA said. The CTA said it has been emailing Chicago Card users, asking them to updated information so they can receive and activate their cards. Card users who signed up through their employers will get a Ventra card in September, according to the agency.

Students at other local universities and Chicago Public Schools students will get their passes later in August in time for the start of classes, the transit systems announced. All customers will be able to use Ventra by Sept. 9.

The Ventra cards will be sold through retailers and at rail stations Sept. 9, the CTA said. By November, regular transit card vending machines will be replaced with Ventra machines, and customers no longer will be able to reload cards or buy one-day, three-day, seven-day or 30-day passes.

By December, magnetic stripe farecards will no longer be accepted. Balances left on these cards can be transferred to Ventra though March 2014.

“We’re excited to welcome the first users and eager to educate all of our customers about the benefits of Ventra, which will replace an outdated, nearly 20-year-old system with a modern, efficient one that will allow faster boarding, account management and balance protection when the card is registered," CTA President Forrest Claypool said in a statement.

The new system will raise cash fares to $3 from the current $2.25 per trip.

Customers will have to pay $5 to buy the card, but the money will be refunded to the card as a credit after users register it online or by phone, the CTA said. The $5 one-time fee will be waived if customers buy the cards at community locations that will be announced soon, the agency said.

The CTA said it will make information available through ventrachicago.com and its regular website.