The rollout of Ventra contactless transit payment cards in the Windy City market wasn’t a smooth one in 2013, but details from the Chicago Transit Authority released Wednesday (Oct. 14) reveal plans that will introduce a new mobile ticket smartphone app into the market.
The first step in that plan involves a Metra train pilot program in February when customers can purchase a Ventra card by smartphone, buy a ticket by phone and then present the phone to the conductor. That step is just a transition to the end goal of using the smartphone app with a reader; this concept is slated for late 2015 or 2016.
Ventra is a program shared between the CTA, Metra and a Pace bus system that involves linking a bank account to the contactless card that’s used with a rail reader. The first phase for all three agencies should launch next May. The smartphone app will also allow riders to use any credit or debit card to load money on the Ventra app.
Chicago Sun-Times reported: “Although Metra has been slow to jump on the Ventra bandwagon, Metra, CTA and Pace are now working in lockstep on the new Ventra app and testing it as ‘one customer base,’ said Mike Gwinn, CTA director of revenue and fare systems.”