Finally, by the end of 2014 Chicago will have one transit card to rule them all, called Ventra:
The CTA and the Regional Transportation Authority are leading an effort to create an open fare system in which bank-issued cards and universal transit cards will be accepted on CTA, Pace and Metra.
The RTA system faces a 2015 deadline to fully implement an integrated fare system. Part of the challenge is including Metra, which is slowly modernizing its antiquated fare-collection system that still involves conductors punching paper tickets and passes.
When Ventra begins next summer, CTA and Pace will continue to offer special fares for students and senior citizens and various-priced fare products, like 30-day and 7-day passes, and will still accept cash on buses.
The official site explains:
Here’s how it works:
Ventra Card: This contactless card works like the current Chicago Card Plus, only better! Just tap on a card reader for quick and easy boarding on trains and buses. Plus, you can manage your account and balance at Ventra vending machines in CTA stations, numerous retail locations, online or over the phone.
Ventra Ticket: These contactless tickets work just like the current magnetic stripe cards but are even easier to use. Just tap and ride! Choose from a single-ride or 1-day Ventra ticket.
Bankcard: Ventra introduces another way to pay for transit fares by using the bankcard already in your wallet. Simply register your personal bank-issued contactless credit or debit card, add transit passes and value or pay as you go for rides.
And someday, they hope, they'll have a mobile phone option.
Other transit systems, including those in San Francisco and London, have had similar systems for a while.