Next iPhone could replace your CTA Chicago Card Plus

Apple’s recent announcement that the next iPhone will be able to make purchases brings us one step closer using phones to board the CTA bus or push through a turnstile.

The CTA has already issued an RFP for its so-called “open fare collection system.” in the graphic it used in a board presentation about it, the CTA included a phone as an example of a payment device, along with credit cards.

new fare cards.jpg

Built-in “Near Field Communication” (NFC) is the key to enabling your
phone to be a payment device. The phone would support over-the-air
updates, such as topping up credit, according to the Mass Transit blog. More from the blog:

“Waving your phone near an NFC terminal, at a railway station turnstile
for example, will initiate an authentication process with a back-office
server that identifies you via the phone’s unique I.”

An NFC phone was successfully piloted on San Francisco’s BART in 2008: “The customers could automatically top up transit value over the air once
the user’s balance dropped below $10. Participants reportedly got
nearly $50 in value for free rides when they started the trial. Users
could also tap smart posters at transit stations to download special
offers and get directions to the nearest Jack in the Box.”

And there’s another revenue opportunity for the CTA! Partnering with merchants like Jack in the Box.


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  • Excellent point glg. And the BART pilot featured a Samsung phone.

  • So, in the future, someone will be able to snatch your phone and your bus fares.

    Also, there used to be a Jack in the Box on Howard near Clark, but the only ones in Illinois are now in the St. Louis area. Of course, I realize you said "like."

  • I was really hoping there would be people like "Jack on the Bus."

  • Except my employer pays for my transit expenses while I pay for my phone expenses. I'm all in favor of chipped credit cards and simpler payments (remember, Kevin, the hysteria on your old site over the imagined "invastions of privacy" when the Chicago Cards were introduced? Absolutely none of it has come to pass), but there are a lot of different scenarios involving how we passengers receive our transit money and how we spend it -- to the point where even the IRS is going to have to give the nod to any system that's worked out.

  • I'd prefer the microchip in my wrist.

  • There used to be a Jack In The Box at Ridge & Clark, where the Lincoln statue is now.
    I don't remember one at Howard & Clark.

  • Hopefully, they won't do it at all. It's an unmitigated disaster in the making.

  • If you knew the ins and outs of and who was running the "open fares project" you'd know why it's going to be a complete disaster.

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