Ventra App

Ventra App: Frequently Asked Questions

App Basics

Managing Ventra Cards in the App

Metra Mobile Tickets in the App

Paying in the App

Ventra App Transit Tracker



 

Questions And Answers

App Basics

How do I download the app?

If you have an Android device, you can download the app from the Google Play Store.

If you have an iOS device (iPhone, etc.) you can download the app from the iTunes App Store.

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I think I have a Ventra account but don't remember my username or password. How do I find it?

If you don't know your Ventra online account username, you can look it up online (you just need to know the e-mail address that was used to create an account).

If you don't know your password, you can reset your password online. You'll just need to log in with the temporary password we send you on the Ventra website and reset it to one you can remember.

If you need additional assistance, call Ventra Customer Service at 1-877-NOW-VENTRA.

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Do I need to have a credit card to use the Ventra app?

Nope—you can use the app to keep track of your fare and get real-time account notifications, even if you load cash at vending machines or over-the-counter at shops that sell Ventra.

You can even buy and use Metra mobile tickets using cash value you’ve loaded into your Ventra account.

If you’d like to load value or passes into your Ventra Card’s transit account, however, you will need to have a credit or debit card.

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Can I touch my phone to a Ventra reader to pay with the Ventra app?

For now, the app won't replace your Ventra Card, but it is something we plan to bring in the future. Touch-to-pay technology is advanced functionality that we're planning for a later phase of the app’s development.

Right now, we’ve been focused on providing great account management features, notifications, travel information and the all-new ability to buy Metra tickets on your phone.

(Note that Ventra readers do accept direct, contact payments for fare—if you just need a single ride and no transfers, you can already use Apple Pay and Android Pay at Ventra readers.)

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What improvements are planned for future versions of the app?

What you see today is just the very first version of our app, and our plans for what the Ventra app does go far beyond what you see today! Not only are we already setting our roadmap for additional features in future versions of the app, we're also listening closely to what you tell us you want to see in order to continually make the app serve you better.

Here are just some of the larger improvements we're already thinking about:

  • Get service alerts about the routes you care about as app notifications

  • Expand travel information to include door-to-door trip planning

  • Additional account notification functionality and added controls

  • Touch-to-pay functionality for compatible devices to allow you to pay directly with the app and your phone using Ventra value and passes, without the need to carry a Ventra Card (virtual Ventra Card on phone)

We also intend to explore offering advertising in a future version of the app, which could include promotional content that customers would voluntarily select to receive—similar to options available in other apps.

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Managing Ventra Cards in the App

What’s a Ventra “pass”?

Passes let you have unlimited rides during a given period of time. For example, a CTA 3-Day Pass allows you to ride as much as you like for three days starting the next time you ride CTA.

When you load a pass, your next eligible ride will be covered by the pass and it’ll be activated.

Passes only cover the first rider, so if you’re also paying for others traveling with you, note that their fares will be deducted from transit value.

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How up-to-date is my balance in the My Ventra Cards part of the app?

The balance shown in the app (after it refreshes) is the latest available balance in your Ventra transit account.

If you just took a ride a few seconds ago, this might not be reflected in your balance right away—but once your ride gets up to our servers and your fare is calculated, you’ll see your updated balance in the app instantly.

When you load value or passes in the app, these both appear and are available for use right away.

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If I have insufficient fare to ride or a negative balance, how quickly can I correct this within the app?

If you load enough value to correct a negative balance in the app, this value becomes available for use right away and your card will start working again.

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If I load value or a pass in the app, how quickly is it available for use?

Value and passes you load in the app are available for use immediately on CTA and Pace—just like at a vending machine.

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Why don't I see my most recent ride or the fare that was deducted in my transit history?

It can take a little while (up to around 20 minutes, though often much faster) for rides you've taken with your Ventra Card to appear in your transit history. This is because data about your use of a card at a reader, such as on a bus, needs to get back to our servers and be processed before it can appear in your history.

You may also, at first, see "pending trip pricing" while the transaction is still being fully processed by our systems.

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I got on the bus earlier and checked my balance after I sat down, but it looks like it's changed since then. Why?

Since rides you take need to be sent up to our servers from the reader where you touch your card, it can take a little while sometimes for the ride to be reported in our system and the balance to be deducted. This usually happens in seconds, but can sometimes take a few minutes.

If your balance goes low (below $5) or a negative balance has occurred, we'll let you know right away if you haven't disabled app and/or e-mail notifications about your transit account.

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I have a U-Pass. Can I use the app?

Absolutely. You can register your U-Pass in the app or at ventrachicago.com and manage your fare in the app—including to check your balance, add value, load passes and control autoload, just like anyone else with a Ventra Card.

Remember, outside of school terms where you're enrolled full time, your U-Pass will need to have fare or regular passes added to keep riding, since regular fares are charged off-season. You can even set up autoload so you've always got backup fare for when school goes out of session.

And remember, you can also use the app to buy and use Metra mobile tickets, too!

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I have a reduced fare card. Can I use the app?

Yes! You can register your card in the app or at ventrachicago.com and manage your fare in the app—including to check your balance, add value, load passes and control autoload, just like anyone else with a Ventra Card.

And remember, you can also use the app to buy and use Metra mobile tickets, too! Just remember that you'll still need credentials to show that you are eligible for a reduced fare when you go to use a reduced fare mobile ticket on Metra trains.

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Metra Mobile Tickets in the App

Should I buy my ticket before I get on the train?

Yes. Buying your tickets in advance helps make sure you’re ready to go when you get on the train. Tickets you buy are stored on your device until you use them (but unused One-Way and Weekend tickets expire 90 days after purchase; and unused Ten-Ride tickets expire a year after purchase.)

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When do I activate my ticket?

Once you've bought your ticket, it stays stored on your device until you're ready to use it. Activate ("use") your ticket only once you're on your train. You can then go and do other things on your phone and come back to the ticket during your ride if asked to show your ticket later.

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How long are tickets I purchase good for?

One-way tickets and weekend tickets are good for 90 days from purchase.

10-ride tickets are good for a year from purchase.

Monthly tickets are good from the 1st of the calendar month they are good for and until noon on the 1st business day of the following calendar month.

Remember to buy your tickets in advance of when you ride so you've got a ticket and are ready to activate it as soon as you sit down on the train.

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Is there a surcharge if I buy a ticket in the app?

No – Metra mobile tickets cost the same as their paper counterparts.

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Can I use the app to buy Metra mobile tickets without creating a Ventra account?

Yes. But we highly recommend you create an account. It’s free and easy and it allows you to take full advantage of all the app’s features. You can store your credit or debit cards, including pre-tax transit benefits debit cards, so you don’t have to enter the information every time you buy a mobile ticket. It also allows you to split your payment between two cards – very handy for those who use a pre-tax transit benefits debit card that does not fully cover the cost of a Monthly Pass. It allows you to recover your mobile tickets if your phone is lost, stolen, damaged or replaced. And if you have a Ventra card, it allows you to check your balance, add value, add passes, get account notifications and more.

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Can I use the app to buy Metra mobile tickets even if I don’t have a debit or credit card to pay with?

Yes. If you’ve created a Ventra account and registered a Ventra card, you can log in and use transit value from that card’s account to buy a Metra mobile ticket. You can load value with cash at any Ventra vending machine or at any of about 1,300 retail locations around town, including most currency exchanges and drugstores.

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How do I use a mobile ticket in the app on board a Metra train?

When you board your train, select “My Metra Tickets” in the app and tap the ticket you’d like to use. You’ll be prompted to confirm activation. Then show your mobile ticket to the conductor when the conductor is checking for tickets. He or she will ask you to touch the screen; when you do the colors in the animation change. This is a quick way for the conductor to visually check that the ticket is valid.

If necessary, the conductor may also ask you to touch the QR code in the lower right corner of the ticket, which will enlarge the code and further verify the ticket as valid. You can navigate away from the app and return to reopen your mobile ticket (it’ll show as “In Use”) as many times as you need to during your ride.

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How does the Ten-Ride ticket work in the app?

When you buy a Ten-Ride ticket, you’ll see that you have 10 tickets of that type in your “Stored Tickets” under “My Metra Tickets” – it’s almost like having a little book of 10 One-Way tickets. When you go to use one of the rides, it’ll activate just one ticket and the rest will remain as “Stored Tickets” until you need them.

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What happens if I put my phone away and am asked to show my ticket again?

Metra mobile tickets stay active in the “Tickets in Use” section for a set amount of time – tickets for longer trips (as determined by the origin and destination, or zones) remain active longer than shorter trips. Monthly and weekend passes remain active for the month or weekend they are activated. If you put your phone away or leave the app to do something else, you can always go back and reopen it – just look for the “In Use” ticket. 

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What happens if something delays my train after I’ve activated my ticket?

If you activate your ticket and something happens that delays your train, no worries. Tickets that have been recently used will remain on your phone as “Expired” for three hours after they expire, and your conductor will know whether to accept an expired ticket as valid in such circumstances.

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Can I use Metra mobile tickets to ride any Metra line?

Yes! Mobile tickets in the app are accepted on all Metra trains.

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Can I use the Ventra app to travel to/from Hegewisch?

No – that service is provided by the Northern Indiana Commuter Transportation District (the South Shore Line), which does not accept Metra tickets. 

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I just got a new phone and logged in. Why don't I see my tickets?

When you buy a mobile ticket for use on Metra trains, the ticket is downloaded and stored on your device.

By storing tickets on your device (rather than keeping them on our servers), your tickets are still available even if you need to use your ticket in a place where you don't have an Internet connection (such as when you're in underground stations or in a cellular "dead zone").

You can, however, move tickets bought while signed into the Ventra app from one device to another.

Learn more about how to move tickets to a new device.

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Paying in the App

How do I add a credit or debit card in the app?

If you're signed in, you can add payment cards by going to My Account from the app's main menu. You can also add payment methods on ventrachicago.com—they'll automatically appear in the app.

If you haven't done this in advance of trying to make a purchase in the app, you can also add one as part of the checkout process. The card will be stored in your account once you've completed the transaction.

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How do I use pre-tax transit benefit money through work for use in the app?

You set up pre-tax Transit Benefits through your employer, if they offer it. (If they don't, tell them you'd like it!)

There are two ways to use transit benefit money with the app:

  1. Have it delivered to a Ventra Card's transit account: If you can have money delivered to a Ventra Card's transit account, set this up to have transit benefit value automatically appear. This money can cover fares paid with a Ventra Card on CTA and Pace and can also be used as a funding source when you buy a CTA or Pace pass or Metra mobile ticket right from within the app.

    If you don't have enough benefit value to cover your pass purchase or a monthly Metra mobile ticket purchase, you can choose "split payment" to split the difference between your transit benefit value and another payment method.
     
  2. Use a prepaid transit benefit debit card as your payment method: If you've been issued a special transit-only debit card to where your benefit money is loaded, you can set up that debit card as a funding source in the app to pay for transit.

You can also split payments between two credit/debit cards in the app, so if the maximum benefit value is less than a Metra mobile ticket you wish to purchase, you can cover your purchase with two payments.

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Ventra App Transit Tracker

Is arrival information real-time in the Transit Tracker for all of CTA, Metra and Pace?

Information you see in the app is the same as what you'd find on the web-based trackers published by all three agencies, which, depending on the service, can be a combination of real-time and schedule-based information.

In general, most imminent information (for vehicles that are already in service) is real-time. Estimated arrival/departure information for service that is further in the future (for transit services that have not yet gone into service) is often estimated based on scheduled departure times.

Whenever the Metra departure times are updated in Metra's rail-time tracker, the same information is reflected in the Ventra app.

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How come "Nearby Stops" didn't show what I expected?

The stops that are shown are based on the location information your phone was able to give us about where you are.

If you're underground, in a sturdy building or don't have WiFi or GPS enabled, your device might give us an approximate location, but it might not be precise enough for us to give you really good results.

Also, if you have location services disabled or have denied the Ventra app access to see this location, this feature won't be able to work.

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