New Ventra app set for release by the beginning of summer


Colin King

Ventra is launching a smartphone app this summer that will allow Metra, PACE and CTA riders to buy and display tickets and add value to transit cards on their phones. The app is currently in beta testing and feedback is being collected from more than 1,000 people. 

By Metro Reporter

Metra, PACE and CTA riders in Chicago will soon be able to purchase tickets and reload Ventra cards through their smartphones.

The app, which will debut as early as May or as late as June, includes a mobile ticketing function, allowing riders to purchase and then display tickets on their smartphones using a credit card, debit card or Ventra account, according to Michael Gillis, a Metra spokesman.

“It solves a couple of problems for Metra,” Gillis said. “Right now we only accept cash on our trains. Part of the goal is to have a regional, more integrated transportation system, and by accepting Ventra, riders can use their Ventra account for any of the three Chicago area transit agencies.”

Gillis said Metra made a call for volunteers to help test the app a few weeks ago, resulting in more than 1,000 people volunteering across all three transit agencies. Feedback from the chosen volunteers is still ongoing. Gillis said it is very simple to use and that it will have many different features for riders.

“One of the features that’s on there is a trip tool,” Gillis said. “If you’re standing on a street corner, you can ask the app to use your location and tell you what bus routes are near you and when the next bus is going to come along. We’re going to be updating it in the future. You’ll be able to do such things as actually pay for your CTA or PACE using your phone. Instead of tapping your card, you will tap your phone on a turnstile.” Patrick Wilmot, a PACE spokesman, said PACE created the app for its riders’ convenience.

“This app will also allow customers to be able to monitor and add money to their account [and] look at the status of a monthly pass,” Wilmot said. “We will provide notifications of low account balances and of passes that will expire soon.”

Wilmot said these features will be available to customers either through the Ventra website or at a Ventra vending machine, allowing more portable and easier access to account management and ticket-buying features.

“We have a limited number of Ventra vending machines that exist in the suburbs,” Wilmot said. “We want to provide the tools and the options in order to give customers the maximum number of choices and convenience.”

Vivianne Linou, 22, said the benefits of the app make her want to try it because it could make her commutes easier.

“I feel like this app would be beneficial for riders to be able to buy the ticket through the app, and it is definitely less time-consuming,” Linou said.