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Encyclopedia > Chicago Card
Chicago Card Plus
Chicago Card Plus

The Chicago Card and the Chicago Card Plus are contactless smart cards used by riders of the Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) and Pace to electronically pay for bus and train fares in the city of Chicago, Illinois, USA and the surrounding suburbs. Image File history File linksMetadata Download high resolution version (2048x1536, 822 KB) Summary Licensing File links The following pages on the English Wikipedia link to this file (pages on other projects are not listed): Chicago card Metadata This file contains additional information, probably added from the digital camera or scanner... Image File history File linksMetadata Download high resolution version (2048x1536, 822 KB) Summary Licensing File links The following pages on the English Wikipedia link to this file (pages on other projects are not listed): Chicago card Metadata This file contains additional information, probably added from the digital camera or scanner... Smart card used for health insurance in France. ... Quincy el Station serving the Brown Line, Purple Line and Orange Line The Chicago Transit Authority (CTA), founded on October 1, 1947, provides bus and rail mass transit services to the citizens of Chicago and several of the citys inner suburbs. ... Pace is the suburban bus operator in the Chicago area. ... Chicago (officially named the City of Chicago) is the third largest city in the United States (after New York City and Los Angeles), with an official population of 2,896,016, as of the 2000 census. ... Official language(s) English Capital Springfield Largest city Chicago Area  Ranked 25th  - Total 57,918 sq. ...

The blue Chicago Card is a stored value card. Users add value to the card at CTA vending machines or at select retail locations, and turnstiles or fareboxes deduct value from the card. Users usually register cards with CTA and can receive a replacement in the event of theft, loss, or damage to the card. Soda pop and snack machines A vending machine is a machine that dispenses merchandise when a customer deposits money sufficient to purchase the desired item (as opposed to a shop, where personnel is required for every purchase). ...

The blue-and-gold Chicago Card Plus is an account-based card. Users link the card to either a credit card, debit card, or employer-provided transit benefit program. The cards may be set up as monthly passes or on a pay-per-use basis. The account reloads from the linked source either when the monthly pass expires or when a user-defined threshold is passed as a pay-per-use card. Because of this direct link to personal accounts, all Chicago Card Pluses are registered to users. Credit cards An array of various credit cards. ... A debit card is an ISO 7810 card which physically resembles a credit card, and, like a credit card, is used as an alternative to cash when making purchases. ...

Both cards can be obtained for $5 from CTA's headquarters and website, though this fee will be waived until May 31, 2006, to spur use. Chicago Cards can also be purchased at retail outlets throughout Chicago.



CTA's Automated Fare Collection (AFC) system was installed in 1997 by Cubic Transportation Systems, the largest provider of AFC systems in the USA. The AFC system replaced the CTA's tokens with magnetic-stripe stored-value cards printed on plastic or paper. All fare collection and payment equipment was designed to be retrofitted at a later date with smart card readers, a technology that was on the horizon. A small pilot program ("Chicago Gold") for reduced-fare disabled riders in 1999 led to a contract with Cubic to install smart card readers universally in 2000. In August 2000, a more extensive "Chicago Card" pilot program distributed stored-value smart cards to volunteer participants. The pilot program was expanded system-wide in November 2002. The Chicago Card Plus, an account-based card linked to a user's credit or debit card account, debuted in January 2004.


Benefits of the Chicago Card and the Chicago Card Plus include the following:

  • Because it is a contactless card, the card proper needs never be removed from its holder, be it a wallet, purse, or backpack.
  • The cost per ride is lowest of the current options for fare payment on CTA, with a charge of $1.75 for a one-way ride and $0.25 for up to two additional transfers used within two hours.
  • The Chicago Card can be reloaded at any L stop and many currency exchanges and supermarkets, with a $2 bonus added for every $20 loaded. (The Chicago Card Plus automatically reloads as necessary.)
  • If registered, the card can be replaced.
  • The Chicago Card Plus is an account-based system that allows customers to manage their account using the internet and a credit card. For those customers willing to manage their fares in that matter, the Chicago Card Plus can become very convienent.


  • Because the cards are registered to discrete individuals, the CTA can track user movement through the system. The CTA actively discourages unregistered card acquisition.
  • The cards are susceptible to damage if bent.
  • The cards are based on a proprietary format owned by Cubic, and hence CTA and its customers have not been able to take advantage of cheaper and more flexible smart card technologies built on open internationally-set standard protocols. Migrating to the open standards can be done, but will be an added investment that CTA will have to decide to make.

Recent fare changes and lawsuit

On January 1st, 2006, the CTA eliminated cash transfers and raised the price of cash fares to $2.00 per ride. Simply put, if you pay with cash, you pay more for every ride. For someone wishing to still pay the lower fare of $1.75 on the bus and pay $0.25 for bus transfers, then a rider should purchase a transit card, a visitor pass (1, 2, 3, 5, and 7 day unlimited rides passes are available), or one of the Chicago Cards. A transit card used on the L will have $2.00 deducted from it. [1].

On Friday the 6th of January, 2006, a commuter filed a discrimination lawsuit against the CTA because she was unable to buy a Chicago Card and thus has had her daily commute costs rise from $4 to $12 as a result of the new fare policies. While access to the Chicago Card may have been problematic, the commuter could have easily purchased a One-Day Fun Pass for $5, so her daily costs would never exceed $5. [2] [3]

Electronic fare collection systems
Americas: CharlieCard (Boston) - Chicago card (Chicago) - GTA Farecard (Toronto) - MetroCard (New York City) - Multivia (Santiago de Chile) - SmarTrip (Washington, D.C.) - Translink (San Francisco Bay Area)
Europe: EasyRider (Nottingham) - Oyster card (London) - Readycard (Greater Manchester) - Andante (Porto)
Asia: EasyCard (Taipei) - EZ-Link (Singapore) - ICOCA (JR West) - Octopus (Hong Kong) - PiTaPa (Kansai Region) - Shanghai Public Transportation Card (Shanghai) - Suica (JR East) - Touch 'n Go (Malaysia) - Yikatong (Beijing)
Oceania: SmartRider (Perth)

CharlieTicket purchased at Airport station in July 2005 The CharlieCard is a contactless, stored value smart card that passengers will carry as part of an automated fare collection system which the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) expects to introduce to the general public in 2007. ... Nickname: City on a Hill, Beantown, The Hub (of the Solar System), Athens of America Official website: www. ... Chicago (officially named the City of Chicago) is the third largest city in the United States (after New York City and Los Angeles), with an official population of 2,896,016, as of the 2000 census. ... GTA Farecard is a planned smartcard-based fare payment system to be introduced in the Greater Toronto Area, Canada, in 2007. ... Template:Hide = Motto: Template:Unhide = Diversity Our Strength Image:Toronto, Ontario Location. ... Metrocard Gold 1997-Present The MetroCard is the current payment method for the New York City Subway (rapid transit) system as well as for buses in the New York City Transit and Long Island Bus systems. ... Nickname The Big Apple, The Capital of the World [1], Gotham Government Counties (Boroughs) Bronx (The Bronx) New York (Manhattan) Queens (Queens) Kings (Brooklyn) Richmond (Staten Island) Mayor Michael Bloomberg (R) Geographical characteristics Area  - Total  - Land  - Water 1,214. ... Satellite image of Santiago Santiago (full form Santiago de Chile) is the capital of Chile. ... Front of a Washington Metro SmarTrip card. ... Nickname: the District Motto: Justitia Omnibus (Justice for All) Official website: http://www. ... TransLink San Francisco is a smart-card fare system being implemented in the San Francisco Bay Area. ... USGS Satellite photo of the San Francisco Bay Area. ... The EasyRider card is a contactless smartcard introduced in 2000 in Nottingham, for use on Nottingham City Transport Services. ... Nottingham is a city (and county town of Nottinghamshire) in the East Midlands of England. ... The Oyster card is a form of electronic ticketing designed for use on Transport for London and National Rail services within the Greater London area of the United Kingdom. ... London is the capital city of the United Kingdom and of England and is the most populous city in the European Union. ... Greater Manchester is a metropolitan county in England established in 1974 which covers an area roughly encompassing the conurbation surrounding the City of Manchester. ... Andante is a public transport ticketing system used in Porto and was the first fully contactless mass transit ticketing system used in the world. ... District or region Porto Mayor   - Party Rui Rio PSD Area 41. ... EasyCard (traditional Chinese: 悠遊卡) is a contactless smartcard system operated by Taipei Smart Card Corporation for use on the Taipei Rapid Transit System and on buses and other public transport services in Taipei. ... City map from Multimap Aerial view from GlobalGuide City nickname: the City of Azaleas Government Official Website City of Taipei Mayor Ma Ying-jeou Capital District Xinyi Geographical characteristics Area  - Total  - % water Ranked 16 of 25 271. ... A standard adult EZ-Link card. ... ICOCA IC card The ICOCA card is a rechargeable contactless smart card used on JR West rail network in Japan. ... West Japan Railway Company (西日本旅客鉄道 Nishi Nihon Ryokaku Tetsud ), commonly known as JR-West (JR西日本 JR Nishi Nihon), is one of JR companies in Japan that covers western Honshu. ... Obverse side of a standard adult card. ... The Kansai (Japanese: 関西) region of Japan, also known as the Kinki region (近畿地方, Kinki-chihō), lies in the middle of Japans main island, Honshu. ... Please wikify (format) this article as suggested in the Guide to layout and the Manual of Style. ... Situated on the banks of the Yangtze River Delta in Eastern China, Shanghai (Chinese: 上海; pinyin: ; Shanghainese: ) is Chinas largest city by population. ... The Suica (Japanese: スイカ) card is a rechargeable contactless smart card used on the (JR) East network, Tokyo Monorail, and Rinkai Line in Japan. ... Yamanote Line, Tokyo JR Yamanote Line train in Tokyo, Japan Above Yurakucho in Tokyo East Japan Railway Company (東日本旅客鉄道 Higashi-Nihon Ryokyaku Tetsudo or JR東日本; JR Higashi-Nihon) is a Japanese private railroad company, one of the seven JR companies. ... The Touch n Go smart card is used by Malaysian toll highway operators as the sole electronic payment system. ... Beijing Municipal Administration and Communications Card (北京市政交通一卡通) store-value swipe card is a card used in Beijing, China, for public transportation and related uses. ... Beijing (Chinese: 北京; ; IPA: ), a city in northern China (formerly spelled in English as Peking or Peiking), is the capital of the Peoples Republic of China (PRC). ... The SmartRider which is based on smartcard technology SmartRider is Transperths new electronic ticketing system using smartcard technology to simplify the process of charging patrons for public transport. ... Perth is the state capital and most populous city of Western Australia. ...

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