CTA takes another step forward to "open fare system" with smart debit, credit cards

The CTA will cut costs and generate more revenue by switching to fare collection via “smart” debit and credit, a CTA officials told Chicago aldermen this week.

“If we’re able to implement something like that, we can bundle everything together — your parking, your CTA riding,” said Eva-Dina Delgado, the CTA’s chief development officer. “If you go to Starbucks every day, maybe you can start getting discounts at Starbucks. All these things can absolutely fit together,” she said in a Sun-Times story.

Banks replied to an initial RFP, but there will be a second round of bidding later this year, with implementation possibly occurring later in 2011. For more details, read the CTA press release.

Meanwhile, the City Council also heard of CTA plans to install pay boxes in 11 of the 17 CTA park-and-ride lots. This change will generate an additional $600,000 in revenue.

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  • I will copy the comment I made yesterday on the Trib here, since the story there didn't stay up very long.

    I used to use the Cumberland garage often and it really needs some work. The parking spaces have been repainted so many times that in many cases it is impossible to tell where parking spaces are. The spaces are too narrow, encouraging people with larger vehicles to take up two spaces just so they have a chance of getting back into their cars when they return. There also seems to be a structural problem near the entrance and there are jacks holding up part of the structure (and taking up several parking spaces). With all that, paying for parking at Cumberland has been the least problematic, since there are human parking lot attendants that collect parking fees as vehicles exit the structure.

    Parking at Linden right now is an absolute joke. One must either have 16 quarters (the slots are not large enough for the new dollar coins) or stand there folding dollar bills over and over again to fit into the tiny slots. The system seems to have been designed for when parking cost $1.

    Parking at Skokie is very odd. One must buy special tokens from very finicky vending machines. On Cubs game days, there will be long lines of people trying to use the token machines and the station attendant is useless. Sometimes, the machines are unable to take cash. Other times, they are unable to take credit cards. A few times, they haven't worked at all. The operation of the machines is not intuitive and Cubs fans are unable to read or understand the instructions posted above them.

  • I'm assuming these pay boxes are similar in design to the parking meters now being used on the streets? The lots where you have to put in the quarters seems like something out of a bygone era. It also seems difficult to verify payment in a lot like that as well. Maybe it is/was run by The Outfit.

  • I've seen systems like this in other cities. In Hong Kong it works very well. You get an octupus which takes you everyone. You can use it to pay for trains, buses, mini vans, and food at convenience stores, vending machines etc. It is fast, clean and simple. I think linking the CTA with local commerce around its stations (and sometimes within stations) can only be a net positive.

  • I'm assuming these pay boxes are similar in design to the parking meters now being used on the streets? The lots where you have to put in the quarters seems like something out of a bygone era. It also seems difficult to verify payment in a lot like that as well. Maybe it is/was run by The Outfit.

  • I can't tell if they're proposing something like Octopus, or just a general debit card that can be read by CTA card readers.

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