From early next year Chicagoans will be able to pay for their bus and train journeys through a mobile ticketing app, although NFC m-payments will not be an option until 2016.
Approved by the Chicago Transit Authority this week, the free Ventra Android and iOS app will give commuters access to the CTA bus and rail networks, as well as Metra trains and Pace buses. Between them, the three agencies have committed $2.5 million to the project.
Users can add transit value and load passes on their Ventra card, check account balances and receive real-time alerts. To begin with, CTA and Pace passengers will still have to tap their card for journeys, although Metra riders will be able to purchase and display tickets on their smartphones using a Ventra account or personal credit or debit card.
More features will be added later in 2015, including the ability to order and to replace lost and stolen cards. There will also me a multiagency transit tracking features, and an integrated regional trip planner.
By early 2016, customers will be able to download a virtual Ventra card onto their NFC-enabled handsets so that they can pay for journeys with a tap of their phones.
Forrest Claypool, president, CTA, says: “Essentially, this app will put a Ventra vending machine in your pocket, giving you the ability to manage your account from wherever it’s most convenient for you, whether you ride CTA, Metra or Pace, or all of them.”