Chicago Transit Authority reminded customers today that time is running out to receive a free Chicago Card or Chicago Card PlusTM, the CTA's high tech fare card options. The purchase price for the cards is $5, however, a temporary fee waiver ? from January 1 through March 31 ? was implemented to encourage customers to open an account and begin enjoying the benefits the Cards provide, such as fare balance protection and the convenience of touch-and-go fare payment. On April 1, CTA will begin charging a $5 fee for purchase of the Cards.
Since its launch in January, 24,155 customers have taken advantage of the fee waiver and registered for the Chicago Card Plus. This is in addition to 42,939 of the original Chicago Cards that are now in use. Combined, there are more than 67,000 smart cards in use.
The CTA also reminded customers that, effective April 1, the 10 percent bonus on purchases will be available only on Chicago Card and Chicago Card Plus and no longer available on the magnetic strip transit cards that have been in use since 1997. The change is designed to encourage more customers to choose one of the two Chicago Card options, which speed boarding and make CTA service more efficient.
Both the Chicago Card ? introduced in 2002 ? and the Chicago Card Plus ? introduced in 2004 ? use SmartCard technology that enables 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 extra seconds saved may not sound like much from an individual perspective, but as more and more customers switch to electronic farecards, travel will become even more efficient as those seconds add up and shave time off the boarding process for everyone.
The Chicago Card Plus enables 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.
Chicago Card value is added at fare card vending machines and there is no online account management.
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 offices on the 7th floor of the Merchandise Mart. In addition, order forms are found at CTA headquarters on the 7th floor of the Merchandise Mart and are also available online at www.chicago-card.com.
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