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CTA Tests Smart Transit Cards for High School Students

The Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) wants to make things easier on high school students who use public transportation to get to and from school. The latest strategy involves new smart cards for students using the transit system. Aimed to add speed and convenience to the process of riding the train, the smart cards will first be tested by around 1,900 students attending Carver Military Academy.

What makes these new smart cards so special? Well, consider that currently, in order for a student to use the transit system at a reduced fare, he or she must carry three separate cards: a student ID card, a paper or magnetic student riding permit to prove eligibility, and a reduced fare magnetic stripe card which is swiped to pay the actual fare. Obviously that's a lot of cards for one person to keep track of, and the idea of presenting them all each time you board a bus or train is rather daunting. With the new card program, a single smart card will combine the functions of all three current cards.

Other benefits of the new card program include reduced administrative costs for the CTA by eliminating the need to have workers checking student IDs at L stations, less wear and tear on fare boxes, and reduced use of cash. The CTA also plans on putting CTA fare card vending machines in and around some high schools so students can add value to their cards without having to go to a train station.