CTA Outlines Next Generation Fare Collection Project

August 12, 2009

Request for Proposals to be Issued Later this Month

Today the Chicago Transit Board was provided a report on plans to transition to a new farecard payment system. This project would introduce the use of contact-less credit cards, debit cards and prepaid cards to ride the system. CTA expects to issue the request for proposals for a two-step competitive procurement process this month.

The transition would save the CTA in money now used to issue fare media and manage the fare payment and collection system.  The contact-less fare payment system would reduce the need for customers to carry cash or have the right denomination or currency to ride the system. In addition, the same card that would pay for fares to ride CTA also could be used for everyday transactions such as purchases at retail outlets, thereby reducing the number of cards an individual would need to carry.

The first phase of the procurement process will examine the CTA's options for developing the card – considering possible procedures, management and cost of the program. After reviewing these proposals and developing a final plan, the second phase will give companies the opportunity to submit proposals for the actual implementation of the program. 

"The CTA continually seeks initiatives that will help improve efficiency and convenience for customers," said Chicago Transit Board Chairman Carole Brown. "With this new system, customers would benefit from the faster boarding times and ease of use as nearly all fare transactions would be touch-and-go."

The farecard would be a smart card containing a computer chip that allows customers to pay a fare and also serves as a standard credit or debit card tied to a customer’s bank or credit card account. A prepaid card could provide the option for customers who choose not to have the card tied to a bank account.

"CTA wants to examine ways to use the technology available today to transition to a more modern contact-less fare media system," said CTA President Richard L. Rodriguez.  "Once implemented, the smart card would bring the agency’s fare paying process more in line with the way people prefer to conduct their business."

The CTA expects to complete the two-step RFP process and begin the transition to an open fare system next summer.

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