CTA Chicago Card Demand Increases as Customers Prepare for New CTA Fare Structure

December 22, 2005

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

December demand for the Chicago Transit Authority's Chicago Card and Chicago Card Plus has increased by 78 percent to date over the entire month of November, an indication that customers are switching to fare media other than cash and preparing to avoid the CTA's January 1 fare increase for cash-paying customers.

Of the two Chicago Card options, the CTA has distributed more than 5,000 Chicago Card Plus cards and nearly 10,000 Chicago Cards in 17 days ? almost eight times the number of Chicago Cards sold in the entire month of November. The Chicago Card stores value directly on the card and value can be added at rail station vending machines and at 65 area Currency Exchanges.

Early results indicate that customers are taking advantage of the new locations to reload their cards with 1,230 transactions of more than $14,400 at Currency Exchanges from December 1 to December 19.

?Our customers increasingly realize that they can avoid a fare increase by switching to the Chicago Cards or to an unlimited ride pass," said CTA President Frank Kruesi. ?These impressive numbers, in just the first 17 days of December, show that customers understand that the Chicago Card and the Chicago Card Plus are good options."

On January 1, 2006, CTA will increase cash fares by 25 cents; and will eliminate cash transfers and Rush Shuttle fares. The fare increase was carefully structured to minimize the adverse impact on CTA customers, especially those who can least afford it. Fares will not increase for customers who use either of the Chicago Card options, unlimited ride passes such as 7-day and 30-day passes, or for bus customers who use magnetic strip Transit Cards.

By limiting the price increase to cash fares, CTA will be able to shield its most price sensitive customers while still generating about $17 million to offset high fuel prices.

CTA has been reminding customers that they can avoid the fare increase by switching to fare media instead of cash.

From December 1, 2005 through March 31, 2006, the initial $5 fee for purchase of Chicago Card and Chicago Card Plus cards has been waived. In addition, the CTA implemented a new ?Touch N Go? pilot program on December 1, adding 65 non-CTA retail locations to the list of locations where customers can add value to or check the balances on their Chicago Cards.

?Chicago Cards help improve CTA's efficiency through faster service and reduced costs," said Chicago Transit Board Chairman Carole Brown. "With new convenient ways to add value, more and more CTA customers are making the switch to Chicago Card."

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.

In addition, CTA personnel have been out at key bus and rail transfer points and shopping centers distributing Chicago Card information order forms and Chicago Cards.

As of December 17, there were 238,367 Chicago Card and Chicago Card Plus cards in circulation. Of those, more than 104,000 are Chicago Cards and 134,131 are Chicago Card Plus.

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.

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