CTA Adds 65 Locations for Reloading Chicago Card

November 30, 2005
11/30/05

New Reloading Sites and December Fee Waiver Make Chicago Card Great Option for Avoiding Fare Increase

Adding value to and checking balances on Chicago Transit Authority Chicago Cards is now more convenient with new locations for reloading available throughout the CTA service area. CTA officials today announced 65 locations will begin offering the new Touch-n-Go reloading service this Thursday, December 1. Along with a promotional fee waiver period which also begins on Thursday, the Touch-n-Go pilot was initiated to encourage customers to make the switch to smart card technology and avoid a CTA fare increase for cash paying customers scheduled to take effect on January 1.

?The new Touch-n-Go locations help make the Chicago Card a fast, convenient and accessible option for CTA customers, and especially bus customers who previously did not have the same easy access to CTA vending machines that rail customers had," said CTA President Frank Kruesi. ?By increasing the number of outlets where customers may easily add value, the Chicago Card becomes an even more convenient choice in CTA fare payment."

?Initiatives to encourage customers to use the Chicago Card are good for the CTA and CTA customers alike," said Chicago Transit Board Chairman Carole Brown. "The Chicago Card streamlines CTA operations while increasing convenience for our customers, a combination that supports the CTA's commitment to improving efficiency in operations and providing a valuable and beneficial product for our customers."

The 65 retail outlets participating in the Touch-n-Go pilot are Currency Exchange stores located throughout the CTA service areas. A specially-designed portable device ? similar to a credit/debit card machine at retail check out counters ? allows each retail outlet to provide the service. Customers give the clerk the Chicago Card and cash. The clerk uses the device to electronically add value to the card. The card along with a receipt is returned to the customers. Customers can add as little as $1.75 to their Chicago Cards using the Touch-n-Go device.

In addition to the new 65 neighborhood locations, customers can continue to add value to Chicago Cards at the vending machines at CTA's 144 rail stations in neighborhoods throughout the service area.

Currently more than 200 non-CTA outlets such as Currency Exchanges, Jewel-Osco and Dominick's Finer Food stores that already provide other types of CTA fare media are also offering Chicago Cards.

Chicago Cards are also available at CTA's main office at 567 West Lake Street from 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., via mail, online at CTA's web site www.transitchicago.com , or by calling 1-888-YOUR-CTA (1-888-968-7282), Monday through Friday, 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.

As of November 19, there were 224,046 Chicago Card and Chicago Card Plus cards in circulation. Of those, more than 94,000 are Chicago Cards, a 49 percent increase over year-end 2004. Chicago Card Plus circulation is at 129,738, a 63 percent increase over 2004 for those who prefer a farecard option where the value is stored in an account and reloads automatically.

The Chicago Card holds value up to $100. Value is stored on a Chicago Card, just as it is on a magnetic strip Transit Card, but it offers additional features such as faster boarding on buses and trains. The Chicago Card, like its account-based counterpart Chicago Card Plus, resembles a credit card and enables customers to simply touch the card against a target on bus fareboxes and rail turnstiles, and go. The extra seconds saved for each customer make travel even more efficient as those seconds add up and shave time off the boarding process for everyone.

In November, the Chicago Transit Board approved the CTA's 2006 budget which increases cash fares by 25 cents and eliminates cash transfers and Rush Shuttle fares on January 1. Fares will not increase for customers who use either of the Chicago Card options, passes on buses or trains, or for bus customers who use magnetic strip Transit Cards.

The budget also established a waiver of the $5 purchase fee for Chicago Card and Chicago Card Plus from December 1, 2005, through March 2006 as an additional incentive for customers to switch.

Retail outlets participating in the pilot receive 1.8 percent rate of commission on the amount of value added to Chicago Cards. This provides an additional incentive for merchants offering the ability to add value and check balances of Chicago Cards.

Information on the pilot locations for reloading Chicago Cards are posted on the CTA web site www.transitchicago.com. Customers also may find a location by calling 1-888-YOUR-CTA (1-888-968-7282), Monday through Friday, 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.

The two-year contract for the purchase and installation of the machines is with Cubic Transportation Systems, which owns the patent on the type of smart card technology used by the CTA. Cubic manufactured the CTA's current automated fare collection system which was installed in 1997.

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