CTA work

In this June 18, 2013, photo, construction workers head home at the end of the day after laboring along the CTA's Red Line reconstruction project on Chicago's South Side.

M. Spencer Green

CHICAGO — Chicago Transit Authority records show riders have lost a little more than $16 million by failing to register their transit cards.

Chicago transit customers receive a $5 refund for registering their Ventra cards within 90 days of purchase.

As of July, CTA passengers have spent more than $24 million on the transit cards since the program's launch in 2013, the Chicago Tribune reported. Just more than $8 million has been refunded to customers.

Information about the refund is publicized on the CTA's website and Ventra vending machines. Recently, the CTA also began advertising benefits of registration on buses and trains. The refund information isn't printed on the transit cards.

"We want people to get the most benefits out of Ventra that they can," said Tammy Chase, a spokeswoman for CTA. "We want them to get the $5 back."

Chase said other benefits of registering the transit card include easily reloading the cards at vending machines or by "autoload" through credit card and bank accounts. Lost or stolen registered cards are also replaced with its value intact.

The funds not returned to customers goes to Cubic Transportation Systems, a private San Diego-based company that runs Ventra.

Chase said the money is put toward making new cards.

The CTA pays Cubic about $3.5 million a month to operate and maintain Chicago's transit payment system. Chicago began its 12-year contract with Cubic in 2011.

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Information from: Chicago Tribune, http://www.chicagotribune.com

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