If you've ever been caught without cash at a bus or train station, this should come in handy.
The Chicago Transit Authority and Pace on Thursday unveiled a new fare payment system that allows customers to pay with a debit or credit card.
The system, called Ventra, will let riders tap their own cards to board trains and buses beginning next summer while also utilizing Ventra cards and Ventra tickets for single and one-day rides.
Transit officials call the new system more convenient and say it could even speed up boarding. It's also expected to save the CTA more than $50 million over 12 years in fare collection equipment.
“Chicago will become the first major U.S. city to adopt an open fare system for transit,” said CTA president Forrest Claypool in a statement. “The CTA is committed to investing in systems and technology that make taking public transportation easier and more convenient for our customers as CTA ridership continues to grow.”
“We are eager to provide this new convenience to our customers because it modernizes our fare system using the latest technology,” said T.J. Ross, Executive Director of Pace.
Specially priced 30-day and 7-day passes still will be available, and CTA and Pace still will accept cash on buses. Though existing cards, including the Chicago Card and Chicago Card Plus, will be accepted when the new system starts, everyone needs to switch in 2014.
The CTA was awarded the $454 million contract in November 2011, joined by. Pace in July 2012. Both transit authorties will pay Cubic Transportation Systems a monthly fee and fee per paid fare.
The new fare machines will be installed starting with rail stations in October.