The Chicago Transit Board, at its monthly board meeting, approved an ordinance allowing the Chicago Transit Authority to implement a Smart Card pilot program. This program is designed to offer customers another Transit Card option with the added speed of "touch and go" access through the turnstiles and bus fareboxes, plus the added convenience of a more durable plastic card that doesn't lose its remaining value even if it gets lost.
Starting in August, the CTA will make rechargeable Smart Cards available for purchase. The CTA will provide more details in the near future regarding when and where the cards will be available for purchase.
"Smart Cards are the wave of the future and the CTA wants to be able to expand the use of Smart Card technology to our full-fare customers. Presently, 1,200 reduced fare riders participate in a similar pilot program available only to seniors and customers with disabilities through the Regional Transportation Authority. These high-tech Transit Cards will give more CTA customers the chance to touch and go," said Chicago Transit Board Chairman Valerie B. Jarrett. "This easy to use technology will make getting onto our trains and buses even more convenient."
The CTA has 4,000 Smart Cards available for this program which were purchased from Cubic Transportation Systems, Inc. for $40,000 under the existing $106 million farecard contract. Approximately 3,500 Smart Cards will be geographically distributed to CTA customers on a first-come, first-served basis. The remaining cards will be held in reserve as replacement cards until the CTA can purchase additional cards.
If a customer reports a lost Smart Card during the pilot program, a $5 replacement fee will be charged for a new card, but the remaining dollar value on the card will be restored following an audit and confirmation by CTA.
CTA President Frank Kruesi said, "Smart Cards offer easier access, durability and reliability as a way for CTA customers to pay their fares. Smart Transit Cards last longer than magnetic-stripe Transit Cards and riders can keep them longer. The CTA has invested in an automated fare collection system that is capable of incorporating smart card technology into its fare media options."
Future uses of smart card applications for transit will allow the CTA to look into partnerships with major financial institutions, corporations and multiple uses such as food, entertainment and telecommunications purchases.
At the conclusion of the pilot program, the CTA will evaluate the program and customer response and usage of smart cards to help determine future smart card expansion.
"The CTA has been on the cutting-edge of electronic farecard system technology since the introduction of the Transit Card. We are pleased to move forward into the era of the Smart Card stage and give our riders more flexibility when it comes to paying their fares," added President Kruesi.###