The Chicago Transit Authority reminded customers today that time is running out to receive a free Chicago Card or Chicago Card Plus, the CTA's high tech fare card options. The purchase price for the cards is $5, however, a temporary fee waiver that ends July 31 was implemented to encourage customers to switch the more efficient electronic fare media option. The fee waiver allows customers to make the switch to either farecard without the initial cost. On August 1, CTA will resume charging a $5 fee for purchase of the cards.
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.
Chicago Cards are available with zero value, or as pre-loaded cards. Customers are able to add value to Chicago Cards at any CTA farecard vending machine. Customers who register their Chicago Cards have the added benefit of fare balance protection. Registering the Chicago Card protects the balance if the card is lost, stolen or damaged. By notifying the CTA, a new card will be issued with the remaining value of the missing card intact.
The Chicago Card Plus is an account-based version of the Chicago Card, where the value of a card is stored in a customer's account, not on the card. Chicago Card Plus allows customers to manage their accounts online and add value to their accounts 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.
Earlier this summer, CTA launched a pilot program on 10 of its buses and at eight rail stations to help speed boarding for customers. An express fare payment lane has been designated on the left-side of the bus entrance for Chicago Card and Chicago Card Plus customers, and the right side has been reserved for customers paying with a magnetic strip transit card or cash. The rail stations have dedicated one turnstile for those paying with either Chicago Card option. The pilot is part of CTA's continued commitment to customer service and is being conducted to determine if providing two lanes for boardingbus customers and a dedicated turnstile at stations will help to speed boarding and, therefore, speed service.
Currently, 108,978 Chicago Card Plus farecards are in circulation with 29,677 of those issued in 2005. To date, 83,262 Chicago Cards are in circulation, with 19,989 of those issued in 2005. A grand total of 192,240 Chicago Card and Chicago Card Plus farecards are currently in circulation.
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. Chicago Cards can also be purchased at authorized sales outlets including Chicago Currency Exchanges, Jewel-Osco and Dominick's Finer Food stores.
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