Here's hoping Monday's CTA announcement that many of its park-and-ride customers can pay with their mobile phones means the agency will bring "tap-and-go" payments to the farebox much quicker.
Riders who use CTA parking lots near the Blue, Brown, Green, Orange and Pink Lines will be able to pay for parking via phone and a credit or debit card linked to their account. From the news release:
Once riders pull into their parking spaces, they can place a phone call or use the mobile application on their web-enabled cell phones to enter their parking space number and begin the transaction. Payments are secure and linked to a credit or debit card. Once your parking session is paid for, Parkmobile will send text alerts about 15 minutes before parking sessions are scheduled to expire.
The payment system is perhaps a test and precursor to the "tap-and-go" fare payment system to board buses and trains. The CTA has promised to scrap the current proprietary-fare systems for an open fare system, where the rider would simply “tap” their contactless credit, debit and bank cards or CTA-branded prepaid cards on a card reader to board. The change is expected in come in 2014 under a $454 million contract to Cubic Transportation Systems.
Research shows that the riding public has a big appetite for such a change. In a recent survey of Chicago commuters, 71% of riders said they are likely to use a tap-and-go payment card for mass transit. Additionally, 81% of Chicago commuters who use more than one mode of mass transit reported they are likely to use a tap-and-go payment card for mass transit. The survey was conducted by MasterCard Worldwide and Harris Interactive.
This will be a big improvement, especially for bus riders who may find it hard to "refill" their transit cards. Currently that can be done only at rail stations.