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Paying CTA Fares With a Tap

"Backbone" of universal fare system to take root with automated payments on trains and buses.

Paying CTA Fares With a Tap

Those flimsy, easy-to-lose CTA fare cards will soon be history.

Officials with the agency on Tuesday approved a deal that will bring new technology to CTA buses and train stations allowing users to tap debit cards, credit cards and prepaid CTA cards to pay their fares.

According to the Sun-Times, commuters will eventually "be able to use their cell phones in the same manner to pay for their fares."

The system, operated by the San-Diego based Cubic Transportation Systems, is expected to save the CTA about $5 million a year by "finally getting the CTA out of the fare-collection and banking businesses," according to Chicago Tribune transportation writer John Hilkevitch.

The city's $454 million contract with Cubic will last 12 years. According to a CTA news release, the new system should be in place by 2014. By then, the prepaid CTA cards would be available for purchase at more than 1,000 retail and CTA stations.

Officials say the installation of the new system is the first big step toward implementing a 2011 state law mandating a universal fare system for Metra, PACE and CTA by 2015.

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