Riders on Chicago Transit Authority buses and elevated trains will make all payments with the Ventra transportation card starting July 1, the CTA announced this week.
As of the beginning of March, the CTA says more than 80% of its riders have already made the switch to the Ventra system, powered through Cubic Transportation.
The announcement signals that Cubic has resolved problems that plagued the system when it was first introduced last September. Cubic upgraded software in the system late last year to alleviate instances of passengers being charged twice or denied access when using the contactless Ventra cards on Chicago's "L" train system.
In some cases, CTA charges were turning up on other contactless cards that were in the riders' physical wallets. Riders who tapped their wallets against the Ventra reader, thinking it would accept only the Ventra card inside, were seeing charges made to multiple accounts.
In a similar situation in the U.K., the Transport for London reported problems after migrating to only contactless payments with the Oyster card last month. Some passengers who paid for Oyster season passes were also being charged on different contactless cards in their wallets.
The Metro newspaper in the U.K. reported that as many as 1,800 travelers have been double charged, forcing the transportation company to refund more than £11,000.
The CTA began issuing weekly progress reports in December on the switchover to the Ventra card from the mag-stripe Chicago Card and Chicago Card Plus to assure CTA officials that all of the snags were being addressed.
Satisfied that Ventra was on the right track, the CTA says starting in June riders will no longer be able to load funds onto the old cards.
The system will no longer accept magnetic-stripe payment cards when the full conversion to Ventra goes into effect in July, the CTA says.
Ventra prepaid card users can also make everyday purchases at retail locations. The card holds two accounts a closed-loop transit payment account and an optional open-loop prepaid debit account.
In addition to a complete conversion to the Ventra card, the CTA and Cubic Transportation continue to test the use of mobile Ventra payments through Near Field Communication-enabled mobile devices.
The CTA has not determined when it might roll out the use of mobile payments on the "L" trains or Pace buses in the city, spokesperson Lambrini Lukidis told PaymentsSource in a previous interview.