CTA gets smart, moves bus "Go Lane" reader to the farebox

The CTA has given up on its five-year Go Lane “experiment” and is moving the card readers from the left side of the bus to a prominent spot on the farebox.


(Photo from ChicagoBus.org)

Starting with buses running out of the Forest Glen garage on the North Side, the CTA began moving the equipment on Monday. When the CTA introduced the Go Lanes in 2005, it hoped to speed boarding by separating Chicago Card holders from cash customers and transit card users. But many buses didn’t have aisles wide enough to accommodate all riders.

Problems also cropped up when fares didn’t register, and drivers had to call back riders — sometimes causing disputes. The reader also couldn’t register a smart card fare when someone paid at the farebox simultaneously.

So yes, it was a smart call for the CTA to stop the Go Lane.


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  • I never did like that. I can't see how much was being deducted from my Chicago card. I should trust the CTA to take out only the correct amount? NOT!! Put the card-reader back on the farebox so I can see what is being deducted -- and how much I have left on the card.

  • In reply to daCubsCat:

    If it's that important to you, maybe you could make the extraordinary effort of checking the Web site.

  • In reply to daCubsCat:

    Doubling the fares is something rich people who hate poor people like, but that's about it, I think.

    If you want a pretext to raise fares, raise the criminally low transfer fares. All fare increases are off the boards for another year and a half, but still, make the frequent system users pull their weight.

  • In reply to BobS:

    I'm not rich & I don't hate poor people, but they are the worst when it comes to paying with cash.
    That causes delays for buses because they take so long to put the money in the farebox, that is if they even have it ready when they board.
    They need to understand that the cards are better for everyone.
    One of the things I notice is that I haven't seen a broken farebox in a couple of years. I'm sure they still break down, but when a smart card is used, no moving parts are involved & that means fewer ways for the farebox to break down. Broken fareboxes cost the CTA not only the lost fares, but the costs of repair.

  • In reply to BobS:

    I do not hate poor people.

    It would be good to get more machines out there to load up smart cards or issue mag stripe (~70 year old technology) cards to give bus riders options. CTA should install them in police stations, city colleges and universities, public libraries, park district field houses, places where the City is paying real estate anyway and has a point of presence and where the machine can be monitored even by camera.

    If you told the cash paying public (poor and not-poor) that continued use of cash will be 2x the fare, everyone would figure it out pretty quickly and go to a machine to get a card. You immediately give card users a break over cash payers.

    Another option though I doubt we are ready for it is to work w/ cell phone companies and use a phone w/ a chip that could store value (or add to phone bill). Some might think this too would be for 'rich' only but when I volunteer to serve food for the needy and the homeless, many of our customers have phones - and continue to pay for a phone over groceries. I was surprised by that actually.

  • In reply to BobS:

    Well, for me these things just don't give me any value. I generally use the 1-day passes when I need to use transit. If the Chicago Card system was set up so that it would stop charging once I reached the cost of a 1-day pass in a 24-hour period, I would get one ASAP. Unfortunately, it doesn't seem to be set up for anyone but the daily user.

  • i personally feel rude pushing past people paying with farecards to touch my chicago card, and will usually wait behind them unless they're fishing around in their bag or something. i didn't even realize there was a "go lane" in the first place.

  • Will CTA consider putting Go-Lane at the rear doors then more passengers could get on the bus at once. Some sort of audio/visual signal system would have to be installed to show the passenger their fare was registered correctly and they could move on. Also people could really utilize all the space behind the people in the front of the bus who resist moving to the rear.

    Try it on select routes where there is high Chicago Card/Plus usage. And have an auditor board the bus some time before the stops where most of the riders alight (El, Loop, stadiums), connect a mobile screen to the on-board bus video system and look for scofflaws. We have those video recording systems installed, might as well use them for something besides watching shootings and other assorted violence in court and on TV. Eventually (the sooner the better) some crooks will wise up and know not to do anything stupid on a bus/train, then what use will the cameras be?

    This might bring about more people who cheat the system but we could trust people a little more and perhaps they would self police as well. I'm starting to see more and more passengers tell loud-talkers, cell-phone-yackers, etc. to shut up, turn it down, or mind their language. We can't depend on CTA to play Ms Manners can we?

    Also, raise those cash-only fares like they did for I-Pass. Why must Chicago Card/Card + users be inconvenienced by slow cash payers? The intent of Go Lane was a good one - just poor execution.

  • In reply to 20fie18:

    I've believed for a long time that cash payers should pay double, just like London.
    There a cash ride is something like $5.
    There should only be two kinds of fares, Chicago Cards which includes the other smart cards & cash. No more swipe cards.

    And the Go Lane placement & operation was a disaster.
    Besides the system being incapable of registering a fare in the farebox & the Go Lane at the same time, it also had the problems of not giving the rider any real feedback as to whether the fare registered.
    The beeps were & still are incomprehensible & the lights can't really be seen.
    Plus there are often people standing in front of the Go Lane touch pad.

    All around incompetence, which is par for the course at CTA!

  • In reply to 20fie18:

    The inability to register tow fares at once really doomed the Go lane concept. Because as glg notes, that really doesn't speed up anything. All the people leaning against it and having to say "excuse me" to even pay your fare.
    I'm up for doubling the cash fare, don't know that we're ready to do away with swipes though, they're especially handy for daily use cards, weeklies, the sort of things getting visitors using CTA. When I have visitors in town I load a swipe card with some money for them, I don't think I'd have extra Chicago cards lying around unless the penalties on replacement cards were less steep.

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