A DePaul student uses the U-Pass at the Jackson Red Line stop. (Photo/Andrew Rodriguez)
By Andrew Rodriguez
Posted: Tuesday, Sept. 10, 2013
Day one of the CTA's new Ventra card system went relatively smoothly on a very hot and steamy Monday, despite some confusion and minor complaints by commuters.
Said one rider at the Addison station as he rushed to catch his train, “I don’t even know how to use this."
That was the case for a lot of riders, especially during the busy morning commute.
Georgia Gove, a Red Line commuter, used her Ventra card to get downtown. She had some issues with the card but also like the convenience of it.
“It’s a little touchy,” Gove said. “The good thing is you don’t have to take it out of your wallet.”
This was the case for many riders on Monday, as their cards would take a second or two to respond to the reader, causing some frustration with people who were in a hurry.
Also, the idea of loading set amounts of money, one-day, or even seven-day passes on a card didn't agree with some commuters.
Tom Wall, who has not purchased a Ventra card and continues to use a CTA fare card, said he is not looking forward to switching to the Ventra card when the fare cards become obsolete by December.
“I don’t want to trust them [CTA] with anything more than I use,” Wall said.
Wall, who also wanted to know if the cards could be used on Metra trains as well, showed even more displeasure when learning that the cards are only usable on CTA transportation and Pace buses.
“Well, that’s another thing they botched on,” he said.
According to a CTA employee working at the Fullerton Red Line stop, who asked not to be identified, the morning rush period was busier than usual in part because of riders learning how to use Ventra for the first time.
“People were hesitant,” the CTA employee said. “This is brand new and no one likes change.”
With some assistance from CTA employees, riders caught on fairly quickly.
Realizing all it takes is a “tap” of their Ventra card on the reader and a second for it to flash the green “GO” sign, riders were on their way.
Despite the commuters who were willing to use their new Ventra cards on Monday, the majority of people could be seen still buying fare cards or adding money on to them at the CTA vending machines stationed at “El” stops.
CTA plans to gradually replace the Transit Card machines with Ventra machines in the coming months, however, riders can still use the fare cards until December.
Riders who own a Chicago Card or Chicago Card Plus must use a different process to fully convert to the new Ventra cards. Customers that have confirmed their registration data will receive their new Ventra Cards in the mail beginning the week of Aug. 26 with instructions on how to activate it. Owners of Chicago Card or Chicago Card Plus will not be allowed to add money beginning on Oct. 7 and they will not be accepted on trains and buses beginning Nov. 15.
A common complaint people had on the first day -- and was prominent on Twitter -- was the fact they had followed the instructions on how to deactivate their Chicago Card or Chicago Card Plus, but were still awaiting the arrival of their new Ventra card in the mail. Ventra Chicago has more information and details on its website and social media.
For those who were introduced to the Ventra card system in the beginning of August -- mainly college students on semesters and some high school students -- the Ventra card is still a work in progress for them.
Walter Young, a student at DePaul University who was accustomed to the fare card-style U-Pass, said it will take some time to get used to the new Ventra U-Pass.
“I have it, but I can’t even use it,” Young said. “It activates when classes start on Wednesday.”
Nick Patel, another DePaul student, avoided this wait by borrowing a Ventra U-Pass of a friend who attends the University of Illinois-Chicago. However, he also had some issues with the card.
“I was confused,” Patel said. “After I used the card, it told me I had negative $10 on it.”
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