Chicago Transit Prepares to Accept Credit Cards on City Buses

Chicago transit officials joined their peers from New York in a quest to replace coins with credit cards on city-operated trains and buses. The Chicago Tribune reported the Chicago Transit Authority's decision to pilot multiple credit card acceptance technologies after studying potential cost savings and ridership improvements from the move.

According to the CTA's research, a cash transaction on a typical bus route requires 25 seconds. Those seconds can turn into minutes if even a handful of riders at a busy stop decide to pay with paper money. Alternatively, a credit card swipe transaction takes about two seconds, while the contactless credit card solutions currently being piloted in New York require only about a third of a second.

Even though about one in twenty Chicago transit riders pay with cash, those transactions can result in delayed routes and missed connections. CTA officials announced plans to request proposals from competing companies to launch a pilot payment program like those in other cities. Proponents of the plan believe that accepting credit cards on trains and buses can help Chicagoans get to work on time more often, while making the Windy City more tourist-friendly.