Love it or loathe it, the Chicago Transit Authority's new Ventra payment system is kicking off soon, with an official launch date set for August.

In a statement released Tuesday, the CTA said "select CTA and Pace customers" would begin using the system in August with a full public rollout following in September.

"We’ve spent nearly two years building and testing this innovative system and are eager for customers to begin integrating Ventra into their daily lives,” CTA President Forrest Claypool in the statement.

Current Chicago Card Plus holders, those with registered Chicago Cards and students who use reduced-fare and U-Pass cards will be the first to get their hands on Ventra cards in August, CBS Chicago reports.

Both existing fare cards and Ventra will both be accepted until December. The CTA provided a timeline of how the transition to the new system will be rolled out in the coming months:

Story continues below

Loading Slideshow...
  • July 2013

    • Chicago Card Plus and registered Chicago Card customers will receive notifications via email/mail of the transition to Ventra, and a few weeks later will receive their new Ventra Cards in the mail with instructions on how to activate. • Pace will hold regional outreach events at which customers can receive information about the advantages Ventra offers and ask questions of Pace staff. • As part of Ventra outreach efforts, mobile Ventra Buses will visit multiple Chicago and suburban events and festivals to familiarize customers with Ventra and demonstrate how to use the new fare payment system.

  • August 2013

    • Ventra launches for the first targeted group of users including Chicago Card Plus and registered Chicago Card users and students at schools participating in the U-Pass program. • Chicago Public Schools and Chicagoland students will begin the transition to Ventra for the Fall 2013 semester.

  • September 2013

    • All CTA customers and Pace fixed route bus customers are able to use Ventra. • Customers can obtain Ventra Cards, begin purchasing products and/or purchasing stored value at all CTA rail stations where vending machines are installed, online, by phone, at hundreds of neighborhood retailers, and the Ventra customer service center. • Both Ventra and the existing fare systems will run in parallel, and CTA and Pace will accept both old and new fare media. Customers can begin transferring stored value balances from old media types to Ventra Cards.

  • October/November 2013

    • Old fare media, including CTA’s Chicago Cards, Chicago Card Plus and all CTA magnetic stripe fare cards, as well as Pace’s multi-ride passes, will be gradually phased out. CTA and Pace will provide detailed information later this summer on transition of each fare media product to the Ventra system.

  • December 2013

    • CTA and Pace customers will be fully transitioned to Ventra. Old legacy fare payment system will cease to operate.

  • Through Spring 2014

    • CTA and Pace customers will have an additional three months to transfer balances on old fare cards to Ventra Cards.


Text via the CTA

Under the new system, the CTA says passengers can board CTA and Pace buses and CTA trains faster with a tap of the contactless card. Fares will remain the same with a Ventra card, though a disposable single-use rail ticket will cost $3 after fare and fees once Ventra implemented.

Ventra will have both a re-loadable card that functions like the current Chicago Card Plus and a Ventra-ready debit card, both of which attracted criticism when first announced. Critics blasted the high fees, confusing terms of service and the CTA's apparent entry into the banking business via the debit card option.

In March, the CTA announced it would scrap some of the more controversial fees from the Ventra plan.

Also on HuffPost:

Loading Slideshow...
  • The CTA Around Town

    CTA's most connected hub at Lake St. in the Loop.

  • The CTA Around Town

    Chicago's elevated tracks.

  • The CTA Around Town

    Faces on the CTA.

  • The CTA Around Town

    CTA Brown Line platform.

  • The CTA Around Town

    Rare In-service train operates through the Old State St. Subway portal at 13th St.

  • The CTA Around Town

    Lake St. CTA station in the Loop.

  • The CTA Around Town

    The "L" from downtown.

  • The CTA Around Town

    CTA rapid transit.

  • The CTA Around Town

    An O'Hare-bound Blue Line?

  • The CTA Around Town

    A sun-lit CTA train.

  • The CTA Around Town

    CTA running express.

  • The CTA Around Town

    In the Loop.

  • The CTA Around Town

    The CTA Green Line passing through the Loop.

  • The CTA Around Town

    CTA passing by the CNA Center.

  • The CTA Around Town

    CTA in the shade.

  • The CTA Around Town

    CTA Bus Tracker and Canal and Adams.

  • The CTA Around Town

    Faces on the CTA.