Chicago Transit Authority Wins 2016 APTA Innovation Award for Ventra App

July 29, 2016

First-of-its-kind transit app that allows customers to pay for rides across CTA, Metra and Pace wins national industry award

The Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) announced today that it will be awarded the 2016 American Public Transportation Association’s (APTA) Innovation Award, the top industry award for distinguished innovation among North American transit systems, for the Ventra transit app.

The Ventra app, developed with Metra, the Chicago area’s commuter rail system and Pace, the suburban bus system, is the first of its kind in the nation because it allows customers to pay for rides on multiple transit systems with just one app, providing riders with a “one-stop shopping” experience that essentially puts both a Ventra vending machine and a Metra ticket vending machine in customers’ pockets.

The CTA developed and owns the modern Ventra open fare, account-based payment system, which it launched in 2014. Following the installation of Ventra, the CTA was joined by Metra, and Pace in developing the multi-transit system app, which launched in November 2015.

“Leveraging technology to further improve the customer experience is a top priority at CTA and the Ventra app was developed with both Metra and Pace with that goal in mind,” said CTA President Dorval R. Carter Jr. “We thank APTA for its recognition of CTA’s efforts to create a modern fare payment system that subsequently allowed our partners at Metra and Pace to join us in creating greater convenience for Chicago transit riders. This award further proves the importance that technology plays in a 21st Century transit system and we look forward to the continued development and benefits of the app in future phases to come.”

“Innovation, collaboration and teamwork are the keys to success,” said Valarie J. McCall, APTA Chair and board member of the Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority. “The work of Chicago’s three public transit systems, with funding from the Regional Transportation Authority, has led to a great customer-friendly product that is a model for other cities with multiple transit systems.”

"The 2016 Innovation Award is being given to the CTA for its lead role in creating the Ventra app with Pace, Metra, and the Regional Transportation Authority," said APTA Acting President and CEO Richard A. White. “Thanks to this innovative public transit fare app, which provides greater convenience and customer service, riders are able to purchase fares and more easily move between Chicago’s three public transit systems.”

“With its mobile ticketing and train tracker functions and its integration with the CTA’s and Pace’s fare payment systems, the Ventra app has proven to be immensely popular with Metra customers,” said Metra Executive Director CEO Don Orseno. “We are excited and proud that APTA shares our view that this customer amenity is truly innovative, convenient and beneficial for the Chicago region’s public transportation customers.”

“Pace is proud to be a part of the team that collaborated on the Ventra app,” said Pace Chairman Richard A. Kwasneski. “By putting the customer first, we’ve created easy access to a smarter, more affordable commute. This mobile platform meets the evolving needs of our region’s commuters and helps public transit legitimately compete against other travel modes. We look forward to future enhancements to the Ventra app and tip our hats to everyone who contributed to this success.”

Since its launch, the app has been downloaded more than 700,000 times and customers have used it to purchase more than $55 million in fares across CTA, Metra and Pace.

The app offers customers a wide range of functionality – including some never before available on phones – including account management, loading of transit value/passes, account notifications and integrated mobile ticketing on Metra. It also provides access to real-time transit tracker information for CTA, Metra and Pace all in one place. Future phases will offer additional services and conveniences.

The Regional Transportation Authority’s Innovation, Coordination and Enhancement (ICE) provided funding for the app’s development.

"We are proud to have partnered with the CTA, Metra and Pace on the Ventra App and we congratulate CTA on winning this award,” said Regional Transportation Authority Executive Director Leanne Redden. “In our role as the regional transit oversight agency, we were pleased to allocate much of the funding for this innovative project, tying technology to transit, allowing riders to purchase transit fares, access a transit tracker and manage their regional transit accounts from their smart phones or tablets.”

The win marks the second year in a row that CTA has taken home a national award from APTA. In October 2015, APTA honored the CTA with its highest honor for creative excellence, the “Grand Award” of APTA’s AdWheel Awards for CTA’s popular 2015 Courtesy Campaign. The campaign, created in-house by CTA staff, was developed to promote more courteous behavior among CTA customers by encouraging dialogue and consideration among fellow riders.

The free Ventra app is available for download and use on Apple and Android smartphone and tablet devices via www.ventrachicago.com, the App Store and Google Play.

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