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Reduced Fare Smart Card For Chicago, Still Waiting On St. Louis

December 3, 2015 Featured, Public Transit, Travel 1 Comment

Metro St. Louis is busy working on smart cards for paying transit fares, some have been testing the new technology. Meanwhile, we’ve been using the Ventra smart card for nearly 2 years when visiting Chicago. See Contactless Transit Smart Cards from February 2014. Last month I finally decided to apply for a reduced fare card.

Full fare Ventra card (top) and my reduced fare card (bottom)
Full fare Ventra card (top) and my reduced fare card (bottom)

Both cards are now on one online account, allowing me to login to add value. My husband will use the full fare while I use the reduced fare with my picture. I applied in person in Chicago and the card was mailed to me in about a week. Both are “contactless” which means the user just taps it at the reader, both have a magnetic strip on the back. The same card works for all three Chicagoland systems: CTA, Metra, & Pace. It doesn’t appear my new reduced fare card can be used as a debit card — that won’t matter to me but it might to others.

In St. Louis, our Metro isn’t going to have a debit card connection — deemed too costly. I’m told existing reduced fare ID holders like myself will automatically receive a new reduced fare smart card — once ready. New applicants will apply in person but leave with the card rather than have it mailed. Since my current Metro reduced fare ID expires in February 2016 I’ll need to renew it once more before I get a smart card version.

— Steve Patterson




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  1. KevinB says:

    Loving my Ventra card (and the simple process of adding funds and/or renewing my monthly pass) — glad to see that Metro is moving quickly toward the same. They say turnstiles and carousels at Metrolink stops is too cost prohibitive, but I feel that those — along with this new touch-pass Gateway Card — helps further validate the system as a whole and encourage more users.

    The debit card feature seems unnecessary to me. Yes, I understand poorer residents may not maintain a savings/checking account, so this would be a simple way to experience that convenience, but generally,I suspect the feature would go unused, as Gateway Card users would use it exclusively to hold transit funds.


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