Chicago Nears Launch of Contactless Transit Payment System (July 3, 2013)
July 3, 2013
Chicago area transit riders soon will be able to pay fares with a tap, now that the city’s Open Standards Fare System is set to make its debut in August with the Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) and suburban bus operator Pace. Known as Ventra, the system is a partnership between Cubic Transportation Systems Inc., MasterCard and Money Network, a First Data company.
Under the program, riders can pay fares with a new Ventra Card, which features a closed-loop account for transit payments and an optional reloadable prepaid card that can be used for everyday purchases everywhere debit MasterCard is accepted. Riders also can pay with any MasterCard PayPass or contactless payment card. The card eventually will be sold in more than 2,500 retail stores and more than 400 vending machines in CTA rail stations, while cash will continue to be accepted in vending machines in CTA rail stations and on buses.
The program was first announced in 2011, when the CTA, which had been planning a move to an open fare collection system for several years, awarded a $454 million contract to San Diego-based Cubic Transportation Systems to develop the system in what Cubic called the largest transit-oriented public-private partnership in North America. The deal grew even larger in August of 2012, when Cubic’s contract was upped by $50 million to expand the service to suburban Chicago’s Pace bus system.