November 25, 2002

Chicago Card's "Touch and Go" Option Now Available System Wide

Demonstrating the ease of fare payment with a simple touch and go, CTA President Frank Kruesi visited the Chicago Avenue Red Line station today to announce the launch of the agency's new high tech farecard, the Chicago Card.

The Chicago Card resembles a credit card and uses smart card technology that enables customers to simply touch the card against a target on bus fareboxes and rail turnstiles, and go. The technology allows for fare balance protection, a four year use life and greater durability than magnetic strip cards.

"The technological developments in the transit sector have allowed CTA to provide more efficient service and the Chicago Card is another example of CTA investing in system enhancements that benefit our customers," said Chicago Transit Board Chairman Valerie B. Jarrett. "We have purchased and applied technologies to improve our bus fleet, rail service and stations, internal operations and fare media. Customers can now feel secure that their farecard balances can be protected through this high-tech card."

Starting today, the Chicago Card is available for purchase on CTA's web site. Beginning December 4, the cards also will be available for purchase at CTA's Merchandise Mart Offices or by mail. Mail order forms will be included in brochures at rail stations and on buses, and also can be downloaded from the web site. In addition, CTA will set up special one-day promotional sales booths at 10 select rail and off-site locations.

"Beginning today, CTA customers have a touch and go farecard option. This new way of boarding truly captures the meaning of Chica-go, as it will help speed boarding on buses and trains throughout the city," continued Kruesi. "The Chicago Card is a smart investment for CTA. It streamlines our operations while increasing convenience for our customers, a combination that supports the CTA operating in a fiscally responsible manner and delivering on the promise of providing a valuable and beneficial product for our customers."

Chicago Cards are available for $5 with zero value, or as pre-loaded cards offered only via the web site or mail order. Pre-loaded cards can be purchased for $25 ($5 for card and $22 for fare value including the $2 bonus). Customers have the option of registering their cards with the CTA and creating a PIN number in order to activate this option. Registering the Chicago Card protects the balance if the card is lost, stolen or damaged. By notifying the CTA, a new card will be issued with the remaining value of the missing card intact.

CTA has a $1.5 million contract to purchase 300,000 Chicago Cards over the next three years from Cubic Transportation Systems, which owns the patent on the smart card technology. Cubic manufactured the CTA's current automated fare collection (AFC) system which was installed in 1997 ? a $106 million investment that first introduced the use of farecards to Chicago's public transit population.

Both CTA and its customers were quick to adopt transit card technology. Within two years of its introduction in 1997, transit cards accounted for 46 percent of fare box revenue, and today, top 78 percent system wide.

A CTA pilot program sold 3,500 Chicago Card prototypes in August 2000. According to a survey conducted in December of that year, the card was popular with 93 percent of the customers participating.

Chicago Card Field Sales Locations

One- or two-day field sales will be conducted at 10 locations, one per week, skipping two weeks for the Christmas/New Year holiday. Field sales dates and locations are:

Starting December 4: Merchandise Mart

December 11: 95th - Red Line

December 18: Harlem/Lake - Green Line

January 8: Midway Orange Line

January 14 and 15: City Hall

January 22: Howard Terminal - Red, Purple, Yellow Lines

January 29: Garfield Blvd. Green Line

February 5: Clark/Lake (Loop)

February 12: Jefferson Park Blue Line

February 19: Western Avenue Brown Line

February 26: Forest Park Blue Line


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