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Metra 'Jumping on Board' with Ventra: Report

By Alex Parker | August 17, 2013 3:50pm
 Metra may soon start using the Ventra payment system.
Metra may soon start using the Ventra payment system.
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DNAinfo/Ted Cox

CHICAGO — Metra riders may soon have a single way to pay for trains to and from the suburbs and public transportation in the city.

The suburban transit agency is "jumping on board with Ventra," Metra deputy executive director Alex Wiggins said, according to a report by the Daily Herald.

"We've got some bugs to work out on the back end, but we've got staff working on that now," he said.

Wiggins made his comments at Friday's Metra board meeting, the first since five board members resigned following the controversial ouster of CEO Alex Clifford.

Ventra replaces the Chicago Card, and rolls out citywide Sept. 9. The system will also be used on Pace buses.

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.

The new payment system has drawn harsh criticism, including from state legislators who criticized the plan for the fees users could rack up if they paid using the debit option. The agency lowered and dropped some fees in May.

Other debit fees, including customer service charges and for those getting monthly paper statements, have been lowered but will continue to exist.

After Ventra entirely replaces the current payment system in 2014, anyone who chooses to ride the 'L' using cash will have to pay $3 as opposed to the $2.25 base fare.

CTA officials say that fee is intended to turn people toward the new cards, which will save the agency money.