TIME RUNNING OUT FOR FREE CHICAGO CARDS

March 29, 2004
3/29/04

Fee Waiver Ends March 31

Chicago Transit Authority reminded customers today that the time period to receive a free Chicago Card or Chicago Card Plus will end Wednesday, March 31. The purchase price for the cards is $5; however, a temporary fee waiver was implemented in January to encourage customers to open an account and begin enjoying the benefits the cards provide, such as fare balance protection and the convenience of touch-and-go fare payment. On April 1, CTA will reinstate the $5 purchase fee.

Since its launch in January, 31,615 customers have taken advantage of the fee waiver and registered for the Chicago Card Plus.

The fee waiver also has generated strong customer interest in the original Chicago Card. More than 21,000 customers have ordered Chicago Cards since January 2004 compared to a total of 23,000 Chicago Cards ordered between its launch in November 2002 and the end of 2003.

Combined, there are more than 75,000 smart cards in use on the CTA bus and rail system.

The CTA also reminded customers that, effective April 1, the 10 percent bonus on purchases will be available only on Chicago Card and Chicago Card Plus. It will no longer be available on the magnetic strip transit cards. The change is designed to encourage more customers to choose one of the two Chicago Card options, which speed boarding and make CTA service more efficient.

Both the Chicago Card ? introduced in 2002 ? and the Chicago Card Plus ? introduced in 2004 ? use SmartCard technology that enables customers to simply touch the card against a target on bus fareboxes and rail turnstiles, and go. It takes, on average, two seconds to use a regular transit card and only 3/10 of a second to tap a Chicago Card or Chicago Card Plus to a sensor target. The extra seconds saved may not sound like much from an individual perspective, but as more and more customers switch to electronic farecards, travel will become even more efficient as those seconds add up and shave time off the boarding process for everyone.

The Chicago Card Plus enables customers to manage their accounts online and add value to their cards automatically each time the balance falls to $10. The Chicago Card Plus offers two fare choices ? a 30-Day pass or a Pay-Per-Use card.

Chicago Card value is added at fare card vending machines and there is no online account management.

Customers can order Chicago Card and Chicago Card Plus online, through the mail, by calling 1-888-YOUR-CTA (1-888-968-7282), Monday through Friday, 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. or at CTA's main offices on the 7th floor of the Merchandise Mart. In addition, order forms are found at CTA headquarters on the 7th floor of the Merchandise Mart and are also available online at www.chicago-card.com.

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