Starting Thursday, Chicagoland transit riders can download a mobile app to reload their transit cards, buy Metra mobile tickets and track nearby buses and trains.
The free Ventra app available on Apple and Android devices will make it easier for CTA and Pace riders to manage their Ventra accounts, but the biggest benefit is to Metra riders who are no longer required to purchase paper tickets.
Metra riders can now purchase a ticket on their phones and show their mobile device to the conductor as proof of purchase. Watch a video on purchasing your mobile ticket.
The app is a welcome improvement to the fare payment process on all three transit systems, although it only benefits riders who have smartphones.
Some local advocates have raised concerns about the inability of many low-income riders and seniors to experience the benefits.
CTA, Metra and Pace should continue to work with these groups to ensure the fare payment process improves for everyone looking to access the Chicagoland transit system.
The app was available early to transit agency staff and volunteers, and riders had good things to say about the user experience. Check out Streetsblog Chicago, CTA Tattler and the Chicago Tribune for detailed reviews.
Customer feedback will be critical as the agencies plan to regularly update and improve the app, especially after the rocky rollout of the Ventra card.
Plans are in the works for an update that would allow users to pay CTA and Pace fares with their phones, although there is no timeline for adding this feature.
Graphic Credit: Ventra