Transit passes change as city rolls out Ventra

UIC-Halsted Blue Line station signUIC students are getting something slightly different this year when they pick up their U-Pass.

The Ventra U-Pass replaces the previous CTA card as UIC joins the city in its move toward more efficient fare payment.

The decision to use Ventra was a choice made by the CTA as it phases out the magnetic-strip transit cards, including the Chicago Card and Chicago Card Plus.

“A lot of people feel like it was forced on them,” said UIC transit benefit coordinator Teri Austin. “I think it’ll be fine — It’s just that anything that’s new, people are reluctant about.”

This semester, students will pay a $31 hike in CTA transit fees, increasing from $109 to $140 because of a CTA daily student rate increase from $0.81 to $1.07. The increase is the first in four years.

UIC employees who use the Chicago Card for the pre-tax qualified transportation program will not lose their benefits, Austin said.

“Nothing from our side has changed, the CTA will just be introducing a new card,” she said.

The Ventra U-Pass will be valid for five years, unlike the previous pass, which was issued each semester. The pass will still activate five days before the first day of classes and deactivate five days after finals.

Transit value can be added to the Ventra U-Pass for use on PACE year-round and the CTA when school is not in session. Value can also be added if students are not full time for the current term.

With the Ventra system, users tap the card over a Ventra reader and the card never leaves the rider’s hand. As the card is held over the reader, a green “go” flashes on the screen to indicate the card is registered.

Cards must be activated before initial use by calling the number on a sticker placed on the front of the card.

U-Passes are being distributed through Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., at the UIC ID Center in the Student Services Building.

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