The Chicago Transit Authority is alerting customers who participated in the Smart Card pilot that the original cards used in the pilot will expire and become inactive on July 14, 2005. As part of the pilot, 3,500 Smart Cards were issued to participants August 2000 and January 2001. Participants in the Smart Card pilot program were provided free replacement Chicago Cards when the cards were introduced in 2002. However, a small number of cards, 339, continue to be used on CTA's system.
Customers who have not yet received a replacement Chicago Card and continue to use the Smart Card to pay their fares are asked to contact CTA Customer Service at 1-888-YOUR-CTA (1-888-968-7282) by July 14 to receive a replacement card.
Following the success of the Smart Card pilot program, CTA introduced the Chicago Card, its first electronic farecard, in November 2002. In January 2004, CTA expanded its selection of electronic farecards with the introduction of Chicago Card Plus, an account-based version of the Chicago Card. Currently there are more than 100,000 Chicago Card Plus cards and more than 80,000 Chicago Cards in circulation.
Both cards resemble a credit card and use Smart Card technology that enables customers to simply touch the card against a target on bus fareboxes and rail turnstiles, and go. The Chicago Card is a stored value card, where the value is maintained on the card. Customers may add value to the card at any CTA farecard vending machine. Customers have the option of registering their cards with CTA to protect the balance stored on the card if it is lost, stolen or damaged. By notifying the CTA, a new card will be issued with the remaining value of the missing card intact.
Chicago Card Plus is an account-based version of the Chicago Card, where the value is of the card is stored in a customer's account, not on the card. It offers two fare choices ? as a 30-Day pass or a Pay-Per-Use card. Other features include automatic reloading through a credit card, online account management and fare balance protection in the event the card is lost, stolen or damaged.
Both cards can also be used on CTA buses and at rail stations with a Go Lane, an express fare payment lane for Chicago Card and Chicago Card Plus. CTA launched a Go Lane pilot program on June 6 on 10 of its buses and at eight rail stations to help speed boarding for customers. The pilot is part of CTA's continued commitment to customer service and is being conducted to determine if providing two lanes for boarding bus customers and a dedicated turnstile at stations will help to speed boarding and, therefore, speed service.
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