To encourage customers to switch to the more efficient electronic fare media option, the $5 fee to purchase the Chicago Card and Chicago Card Plus will be waived now through July 31. The fee waiver allows customers to make the switch to either farecard without the initial cost.
Both the Chicago Card ? introduced in 2002 ? and the Chicago Card Plus ? introduced in 2004 ? enable customers to simply touch the card against a target on bus fareboxes and rail turnstiles, and go. It takes, on average, two seconds to use a regular transit card and only 3/10 of a second to tap a Chicago Card or Chicago Card Plus to a sensor target.
The Chicago Card Plus allows customers to manage their accounts online and add value to their cards automatically each time the balance falls to $10. The Chicago Card Plus offers two fare choices ? a 30-Day pass or a Pay-Per-Use card. With the Chicago Card, value is added at fare card vending machines and there is no online account management.
Last year the three-month fee waiver on these cards generated strong customer interest. More than 60,000 Chicago Card and Chicago Card Plus cards were ordered during that time.
Participants in the Transit Benefit program, which enables transit customers to purchase transit farecards with pre-tax earnings through their employers, are able to select the Chicago Card Plus as a farecard option.
For the first three months of 2005, CTA waived the $5 fee for Chicago Card Plus for Transit Benefit program participants. During that time, more than 5,000 new Chicago Card Plus cards were issued.
Currently, 111,137 Chicago Card Plus farecards are in circulation with 19,074 of those issued in 2005. To date, 67,596 Chicago Cards are in circulation, with 4,686 of those issued in 2005. A grand total of 178,733 Chicago Card and Chicago Card Plus farecards are currently in circulation.
A fare increase is planned beginning July 17. Customers who use Chicago Card, Chicago Plus or passes, and bus customers who use magnetic strip transit cards, will not be subject to the fare increase.
At its April meeting, the Chicago Transit Board approved service cuts and a fare increase for cash customers and rail customers who pay with a Transit Card in order to eliminate a $55 million deficit. The fare increase and service cuts will take effect July 17 unless the Illinois General Assembly provides additional funding for regional public transit in northeastern Illinois.
All unlimited ride pass prices will remain unchanged, including the $5 one-day pass. Customers who use the Chicago Card or Chicago Card Plus, and bus customers who use magnetic strip transit cards, will continue to pay the current base fare of $1.75. Customers using magnetic strip transit cards on the rail system will be subject to an increased base fare of $2. All customers using the Chicago Card, Chicago Card Plus, or magnetic strip transit cards will still be able to make up to two transfers within a two-hour period for 25 cents. Cash-paying customers will be subject to an increased base fare of $2 and will no longer be able to purchase transfers.
The bonus incentive for Chicago Card and Chicago Card Plus will also change under the new fare structure. A 10 percent bonus will be added for every $20 of value added instead of the current $10 of valued added.
Customers can order Chicago Card and Chicago Card Plus online, through the mail, by calling 1-888-YOUR-CTA (1-888-968-7282), Monday through Friday,7 a.m. to 8 p.m. or at CTA's main office at 567 West Lake Street. Order forms can also be found at CTA's main office and online at www.chicago-card.com.
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