Today’s Headlines

  • CTA Launches New Safety Campaign To Keep People Off Tracks (Tribune, Sun-Times)
  • RTA Chief Details Problems With 3 Transit Agencies in Letter to Elected Officials (NBC)
  • Don’t Just Fix the Metra Corruption Problem, Fund Transit Properly (Active Trans)
  • 8 Children Sustain Minor Injuries After Bus Crash at LSD/Balbo (DNA)
  • CTA Recommends Taking Ventra Card Out of Wallet Before Use (RedEye)
  • CTA Board Chairman Denies Signing Letter For Early Release of Gang Leader (Sun-Times)
  • Visitor From Indy Disappointed by Chicago’s Dearth of Downtown Bike Lanes (NUVO)

Get national headlines at Streetsblog Capitol Hill

  • Mishellie

    Hm. I really find it irritating that the ventra card may have to be removed every time I use it. What is the point? How is that any faster than a regular card? Seems like a pretty serious/obnoxious glitch that Chicago card users didn’t have to worry about before.

  • Ryan Wallace

    The Chicago Card was a proprietary technology, which meant it was the only card in your wallet or purse that the reader could recognize. Now that Ventra is using a more open technology (RFID), you have far more flexibility to use any credit/debit card that has an RFID chip. The downside of this flexibility is the minor inconvenience of having to take out the card when boarding. I think this is a more than fair trade off for the system as a whole moving forward. That proprietary Chicago Card technology would have gotten extremely expensive to maintain as time went on.

  • Mishellie

    I really disagree though, only because for me that was the chicago card’s advantage over a magnetic stripe card. I didn’t have to take my card out of my purse, and therefore never lost it. Now I have to wave it around everywhere, have no desire to ever use rfid for finances, and will be more prone to losing this card that it costs money to replace. If it was something that can’t be near other cards, perhaps they should have made a key-fob version, so as to avoid accidentally drawing money from other cards.

    ETA: Is anyone really using their debit card as a ventra card and if so… why? Using a different RFID card seems like a really great way to get a headache trying to get accidentally-taken money back from the CTA…

  • Ryan Wallace

    I actually really like your idea of a key fab version. Something that can be placed on a keyring or attached to an retractable ID badge. I see no reason why Ventra couldn’t offer something like this in the future (even if it was a minimal cost, say $5, for a user to purchase).

    Most users don’t seem to have a problem taking their Chicago Card out of their wallet/purse. I see it all the time. I keep my Chicago Card in a convenient location in my wallet so it is easy to remove and replace quickly. I would argue that those who try to use their Chicago Card without taking it out of wallet or purse, but then the card isn’t recognized, cause some of the most annoying delays on the system.

    As the system is not even fully fledged out I would doubt very many users are trying their own contactless card. I use a transit-benefit program, but if not for that I would likely request a contactless card from my preferred credit card, if only to have one less card in my ever expanding wallet.

  • Anonymous

    So you got the new RTA transit benefit card? How does that work for you? Can you use it for both CTA and Metra (to buy papr tickets)? We’re supposed to get them by November?

  • Ryan Wallace

    I don’t have a new card no. I am still under the old system where my Chicago Card Plus is loaded with my fare from funds pulled from my paycheck pre-tax. I am still a little wary as to how the system will work with Ventra, I would presume it would the the same/similar.

  • Adam Herstein

    The guy from Indy really has no idea what he’s talking about. What bike infrastructure does Indianapolis have outside the touristy Cultural Trail? If he would have ventured outside of the Loop, he would have realized that Chicago is much more bike-friendly than he erroneously thinks.

  • In Indianapolis, one would find a network off multi-use trails that extend from downtown and into the suburbs. And by network I mean they connect to each other! Indy also has a fair amount of bike lanes.

  • There’s a reverse issue: you might inadvertently pay for something with your Ventra card at 7-11, instead of your BankCo. RFID card, if you don’t remove the card from your wallet.

    The RFID card readers at McDonald’s, 7-11, and many other retailers will debit whatever is tapped to them, and can’t tell which card you intend to debit. However, they won’t debit you more than once.

  • Mishellie

    According to my transit benefit person (I work for Lurie…) I dont have to do anything but register my Ventra, and my transit benefit will get tied to my ventra account from my chicago card plus account.

    I have serious doubts it will be that smooth, but I’ll be impressed if it is.

  • Mishellie

    Yeah… it’s getting to the point where maybe we need to just put all this stuff on phones. My ventra card cant be in my wallet with my credit card, and it cant be anywhere near my phone or it wont work. I cant put it in with my work ID because then my access card wont work.

    These things dont play nicely with eachother, and I kind of just want to keep them all in one place but its a giant cluster if I do…

  • Ryan Wallace

    I think this is highly dependent on who your third party transit-benefit provider is. Currently mine has no idea what will happen…

  • Anonymous

    Our provider is RTA. Previously, I had to choose from either a Metra paper check, or a CTA magnetic card. From what I read I will get an RT issued debit card that I can use for all my transit needs: Scan it at a CTA turn stile, but also buy Metra tickets (at the ticket counter for now; hopefully using Ventra in the next year or so).
    Keeping my fingers crossed…

  • Fred

    You can store them all together, you just need to remove them from storage to use them.

    Have people really gotten so lazy that the act of removing a card from a wallet is too heavy a burden?!?

    What would you people do if we went back to an all cash society were you not only had to remove cash from your wallet, but *GASP* count the bills to pay the correct amount!!!

    Seriously, if removing something from your wallet is too great a burden, feel free to switch to driving.

  • Fred

    RFID credit card readers can’t remove money from your Ventra account. The only way they would accidentally charge that card is if you have money on the pre-paid debit side. Even if the reader did detect your Ventra card, the charge would be declined upon authorization.

  • Anonymous

    Perhaps people expect a bit more from a “World Class” city. As a 16 year resident who biked and didn’t drive, I know I sure did. As it is now, you have to cobble together a bike “friendly” route if you want to go anywhere. Hopefully that will change as time goes on… We’ve certainly made huge improvements in recent years and hopefully Divvy will be the game changer.

  • Anonymous

    That’s my understanding too. The Ventra card will only allow charges at places that are registered as a transit vendor (CTA ticket vending machines, etc).

    It’s my understanding that you can no longer buy CTA products at the Jewel with this either. Jewel is not certified as a Transit vendor (since they also sell groceries)

  • Mishellie

    … You must be a lot of fun at parties.

    Anyway… it’s not so much laziness as I carry a backpack or a purse (not a wallet) as I am a female, so each time I approach a turnstile I need to:

    1) Remove backpack
    2) unzipper purse or backpack
    3) root through backpack for wallet.
    4) Root through wallet for card (and I have 2 work id cards, my id, a debit card, and my ventra card, plus a host of loyalty cards) with me at all times
    5) Scan and stumble through turnstile with my backpack or purse wide open
    6) replace card in wallet
    7) replace wallet in purse/backpack
    8) zip purse/backpack
    9) Return back pack to back.

    As you can imagine, doing all of this while also rolling my bike through the handicapped turnstile is a bit of a pain in the ass, especially when with Chicago card plus it was literally

    1) Bump backpack/ purse against turnstile
    2) Move on.

    ETA: Also, there’s a reason we left cash. That reason is convenience. This is a step backwards, as far as convenience goes, especially when it comes to very easily being able to accidentally pay with the wrong/unintended card.

  • Fred

    I doubt it’s even THAT complicated. On RFID read, the number will be sent to MasterCard who will then say “I don’t know any account by that number. Charge denied.” Same thing that happens with an account that has been closed or a card has expired. Ventra itself is not a valid MasterCard. If you enable the prepaid side, the charge would go through as it would be a valid account that should be able to be used anywhere MasterCard is accepted.

    I don’t get your point about Jewel. You can’t buy transit cards with your Ventra account. You can’t by ANYTHING other than transit fare with your Ventra card.

  • Chicagio

    2nd tier cities can often be more progressive with these kinds of things because the demands on their existing infrastructure are much less than a city like Chicago. Their streets are greatly over-sized for the amount of auto traffic they possess so it’s easier for them to take space from them to build nice bike trails. To some extent, I think second tier American cities ought to embrace their role as places for urban experiments.
    While Indy has great bike infrastructure, it is not as dense as Chicago which I think is the truest measure of bike-friendliness. Bikes have a limited practical range you can ride them. The more services I have reasonable access to is my main determinant of bike-friendliness. Buffered and protected bike lanes are nice but useless without density.

  • Fred

    You must have far better luck with your CCP than I do. Even if I remove it from my wallet and place the bare card flat against the reader with nothing else in my hand, it only reads about 50% of the time.

    Sounds like putting your Ventra card in your pocket or storing it in a more easily accessible outer backpack pocket is in your future.

    I’d also recommend carrying less stuff in your wallet to make finding what you actually use much easier.

  • Anonymous

    Yes, re-reading my post, I realized that it mixes two things. The Ventra Card and the RTA transit benefit card.

    The RTA transit benefit card is a prepaid debit card that only allows puchases at IRS qualified terminals (IRS section 132(f)). So 7-11 can’t charge my transit debit card, despite there being funds available on the card.

  • Mishellie

    Those are actually all things I use. Thats the issue- there are too many things to carry at this point. Many of which don’t work well together/negate the point of the “convenience.” And yes – I have speficic pockets in my bags that my CCP does work through.

  • Fred

    I have yet to find a loyalty card or store credit card that couldn’t be used without some piece of information I have memorized (phone#, email, SSN). I carry exactly 6 things in my wallet: driver’s license, 1 credit card, debit card, health insurance card, CTA card, and cash. Everything else that I use can be used without physically possessing the card. My favorite part of Ventra is that I will be able to attach my account to the CC I am already carrying, reducing my wallet to 5 items.

  • Katja

    I go to Indy once a year for a super nerdy convention and have for the last decade or so. A few years back, they put in all these “trails” in the downtown area. In the immediate downtown, the trails are pretty useless; they’re basically just really wide sidewalks with signs indicating where you should go by your travel method (foot or bike). They’re nicely paved and all, but they get full of people going the wrong way or occupying the wrong space. They also tend to just end, super abruptly, when a hotel or some other business decides it wants a driveway more than it wants a bikeway (see: just outside the Hotel Conrad). Then what does a cyclist do?

    From what I’ve seen of the rest of Indy — which is a decent amount but admittedly not all — they have bike lanes everywhere, including along the side of six-lane highways that look terrifying to ride on.

  • Anonymous

    OK, Mishellie, simple solution:

    Since you say (in another post) that you don’t use the RFID chips on your other cards, put all your cards, except your Ventra Card, in an RFID sleeve:

    Leave your Ventra Card on the side of your wallet/purse that gets tapped against the reader. Problem solved.

  • Anonymous

    Carefully cut the card around the area where the chip is embedded. Place in some kind of plastic that has a hole in it that you can slide through your key ring.

    Or just drill a hole through your Ventra Card an inch or two away from the chip. Put the card on your key ring (through the hole). Cut away everything except the chip and the plastic needed to connect the chip to the hole. Put some tape around what’s left to make sure it doesn’t peel apart.

    If you just want to wear the card on an ID card chain, just drill a hole through the card being careful not to damage the chip and run the chain through the card.

  • Right, I was assuming that your Ventra card had value on the retail purse.

  • BlueFairlane

    The horrors. The horrors.

  • Anna Schibrowsky

    Katelyn Coyne is trying to be the next Rachel Shteir. Let’s not give her the attention she wants.