The Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) announced news it is testing out a new notification program. Red Line customers commuting from downtown stations can sign up to receive text alerts about Chicago Cubs night games and the potential for more crowded trains during the evening rush.
In some cases, the CTA Night Game Alerts test program will also offer incentives to customers willing to change their travel pattern for that evening by traveling before 5 p.m. or after 6 p.m. These incentives include offerings such as reimbursement for the ride taken or potential charitable donations.
CTA is the first major transit agency in the U.S. to test out this type of service. The agency will utilize the technical capabilities of the Ventra fare payment system to measure the effectiveness and popularity of the service, which could be expanded for other events.
“We talk with our customers regularly about ways we can improve service, and one of the suggestions we’ve received is getting notice about sporting events and other special events that affect the commute home,” said Dorval R. Carter, Jr., CTA president. “We look forward to hearing from our customers about how they liked the service and if it is effective in reducing extra train congestion by encouraging customers to alter their travel patterns on days of special events.”
The CTA is testing the service with Mastercard and City Digital, a UI LABS collaboration, in partnership with Ideas42. Mastercard has said it will sponsor some incentives that could include fare reimbursement or charitable donations to Stand Up To Cancer based on the number of customers who participate in the program on select days and times.
CTA plans to promote the smart technology service by posting signs at Red Line stations between Chicago and Harrison promoting the CTA Night Game Alerts signup, as well as emailing commuting Ventra customers who typically board the Red Line downtown on weekday evenings and who have opted to receive emails from CTA and Ventra.
Customers who sign up for Night Game Alerts by texting CTAJOIN to 89883 will get text alerts from Aug. 28 to Aug. 30 and Sept. 12 to Sept. 15, when Chicago Cubs night games are scheduled at Wrigley Field. CTA could extend the test program for any night games scheduled past September. Only customers who voluntarily opt in to receive the free alerts will receive texts from CTA, and they can opt out at any time.