Go Back   FlyerTalk Forums > Destinations > America - USA > Midwest > Chicago
Sign in using an external account

Reply
 
Thread Tools Search this Thread
Old Dec 6, 10, 2:26 pm   #1
Talkboard Member & FlyerTalk Evangelist
 
Join Date: Jul 2002
Location: Durham, NC (RDU/GSO/FAY)
Programs: AA, DL, UA General Member, BW Gold, HH Gold, Amtrak Select Plus
Posts: 17,606
Why is paying for a ride on the CTA so difficult?

A little backstory. I arrived at the Jackson Station on the Blue Line yesterday. This station is ~ two blocks from Union Station. Here is what I don't understand:

- The machines that sell CTA cards do not accept credit cards
- These machines do not give change
- The agent on duty came out of the token booth when we seemed confused and also refused to make change for us. What exactly is her position then?
- My Dad asked her why the machines didn't take credit cards and she shrugged and said "they do at O'Hare". Not very helpful
- She also wouldn't let us put $5 on one card and share it between the two of us. So we bought an extra card then threw it out. Seems wasteful.

I think Chicago may be the only transit system I used this year (out of 15 in four countries) where I couldn't buy my fare card with a credit card. This makes very little sense to me and it seems horribly counter-intuitive. As does the lack of change making abilities.

Anyway, sorry to rant, it was frustrating. Luckily the rest of my visit was great.
__________________
Celebrating a dozen years as a member of Flyertalk all month long.
CMK10 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old Dec 6, 10, 4:09 pm   #2
 
Join Date: Feb 2009
Location: WI
Programs: HHonors Gold, UAMP
Posts: 856
They accept dollar coins, good enough for me!
davef139 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old Dec 6, 10, 4:48 pm   #3
Moderator: Travel Technology & Travel Photography
 
Join Date: Nov 2002
Location: NYC
Posts: 7,478
The CTA has been (slowly) rolling out credit card machines at stations, mainly on the blue and orange (both airport) lines. And the red line too, I think. And at O'Hare and Midway. They're about a billion dollars in the hole, and have been focusing on making sure the tracks don't collapse. Personally, I've been hoping for electronic signs saying how long until the next train for YEARS, and they're finally starting to roll them out.

The person in the booth's job is, I think, just to make sure people don't dodge the fare and to help people if their card doesn't work. They aren't bank tellers and have no cash back there.

As far as I know, you should be able to share one card among up to 7 people.
gfunkdave is offline   Reply With Quote
Old Dec 6, 10, 6:47 pm   #4
glg
 
Join Date: Sep 2003
Location: Chicago, IL, US
Posts: 1,815
Quote:
Originally Posted by CMK10 View Post
- The machines that sell CTA cards do not accept credit cards
The usual machines don't, but they have some that do. CTA's website says there is one at the Adams entrance to the Jackson stop. ie, it's quite possible that the agent could have told you to go a block north and you'd find a CC machine.

Quote:
Originally Posted by CMK10 View Post
- These machines do not give change
- The agent on duty came out of the token booth when we seemed confused and also refused to make change for us. What exactly is her position then?
They don't have a cash drawer, they're not sales, they're supposed to be customer service.

Quote:
Originally Posted by CMK10 View Post
- My Dad asked her why the machines didn't take credit cards and she shrugged and said "they do at O'Hare". Not very helpful
Unfortunately, they also have one at Union. If you're going through Union again, there's a machine near the Metra fare desks.

Quote:
Originally Posted by CMK10 View Post
- She also wouldn't let us put $5 on one card and share it between the two of us. So we bought an extra card then threw it out. Seems wasteful.
This is simply wrong information from the agent. You can absolutely use the same card for up to 7 people (gfunkdave is correct on the number). CTA calls it a passback and it's that simple. You use it, go through, then pass it back to your dad, he uses it. The system is smart enough to deduct 2 fares and not try to treat one as a transfer. You were given really bad information. On this alone, I'd suggest you contact the CTA and complain.

Quote:
Originally Posted by CMK10 View Post
Anyway, sorry to rant, it was frustrating. Luckily the rest of my visit was great.
Glad to hear it!
glg is offline   Reply With Quote
Old Dec 7, 10, 11:55 am   #5
 
Join Date: Aug 2006
Programs: UA 1P, AA, Hilton Honors
Posts: 1,094
Quote:
Originally Posted by CMK10 View Post
- She also wouldn't let us put $5 on one card and share it between the two of us. So we bought an extra card then threw it out. Seems wasteful.
This reminds me of 2 couples I was talking to at ORD once. They were from AMS and were flying back after spending about a week here. They did not realize all 4 could use the same card so each one purchased a $20 card. They just used their cards to go downtown and back, so each card had app $15-16 left on it. They were kind enough to give me their cards.
u2fan is offline   Reply With Quote
Old Dec 8, 10, 3:24 pm   #6
 
Join Date: May 2000
Location: Chicago
Programs: AA EP, UA Gold-MM, UA 1K (former), GS (former),SPG LT Platinum, Hyatt Diamond, HH Diamond (former)
Posts: 1,398
Quote:
Originally Posted by glg View Post
On this alone, I'd suggest you contact the CTA and complain.
Why waste the time, its not like they are going to do anything constructive as a result.
neo_781 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old Dec 8, 10, 9:34 pm   #7
glg
 
Join Date: Sep 2003
Location: Chicago, IL, US
Posts: 1,815
Quote:
Originally Posted by neo_781 View Post
Why waste the time, its not like they are going to do anything constructive as a result.
This is a largely self-fulfilling prophecy. The bad employees don't get weeded out because nobody complains.
glg is offline   Reply With Quote
Old Dec 8, 10, 9:53 pm   #8
 
Join Date: Nov 2004
Location: ORD
Programs: UA 1K
Posts: 8,798
Quote:
Originally Posted by neo_781 View Post
Why waste the time, its not like they are going to do anything constructive as a result.
Quote:
Originally Posted by glg View Post
This is a largely self-fulfilling prophecy. The bad employees don't get weeded out because nobody complains.
Welcome to Chicago. Where no one on the civic payroll gives a hoot. They've got a job for life. I live here and love it, but some things are just the way they are. The CTA is among the worst. Thousands of employees doing absolutely nothing, but not worth raising your blood pressure over, since there is no way to change it.
milepig is offline   Reply With Quote
Old Dec 9, 10, 7:55 am   #9
glg
 
Join Date: Sep 2003
Location: Chicago, IL, US
Posts: 1,815
Quote:
Originally Posted by milepig View Post
Welcome to Chicago. Where no one on the civic payroll gives a hoot. They've got a job for life. I live here and love it, but some things are just the way they are. The CTA is among the worst. Thousands of employees doing absolutely nothing, but not worth raising your blood pressure over, since there is no way to change it.
Again, self fulfilling prophecy.
glg is offline   Reply With Quote
Old Dec 9, 10, 9:26 am   #10
Moderator: Travel Technology & Travel Photography
 
Join Date: Nov 2002
Location: NYC
Posts: 7,478
Quote:
Originally Posted by milepig View Post
Welcome to Chicago. Where no one on the civic payroll gives a hoot. They've got a job for life. I live here and love it, but some things are just the way they are. The CTA is among the worst. Thousands of employees doing absolutely nothing, but not worth raising your blood pressure over, since there is no way to change it.
Much like Chicago Public Schools, sadly.
gfunkdave is offline   Reply With Quote
Old Dec 9, 10, 5:58 pm   #11
 
Join Date: Sep 2002
Location: Chicagoland, IL, USA
Programs: WN CP, Hilton Diamond
Posts: 8,817
Quote:
Originally Posted by CMK10 View Post
- The agent on duty came out of the token booth when we seemed confused and also refused to make change for us. What exactly is her position then?
Her position is "in the union and she knows someone, so she's there for life."

At least until this city and state go bankrupt in a few years.
__________________
You've never been out of college! You don't know what it's like out there! I've worked in the private sector. They expect results.
toomanybooks is offline   Reply With Quote
Old Dec 14, 10, 9:13 am   #12
 
Join Date: Jan 2006
Posts: 3,852
Another self-fulfilling prediction.

IMHO, things in Chicago, public employee wise, have changed for the better since the FBI's Operation Greylord and other such prosecutions over the years. Less graft, somewhat better service. But, still not perfect.

By the way, the reason for the crazy fare pay system is amount of money that used to be skimmed off at the live pay fare booths by the agents.
biggestbopper is offline   Reply With Quote
Old Dec 17, 10, 10:25 am   #13
 
Join Date: Feb 2001
Location: Rowe Mesa, NM - USA
Programs: DL, UA, WN, Amtrak, La Quinta Elite
Posts: 1,442
I've been digging around for about an hour and can't find the answer to my query. If I arrive CHI at Union Station (overnite train from NYC), where can I use a credit card to buy a CTA fare card so I can ride the bus a few times? I plan a 24-hour stop in CHI.

Or should I just bring a roll of quarters and drive everyone nuts dropping 9 of them in the onboard fare box each time?
Dianne47 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old Dec 17, 10, 10:40 am   #14
Talkboard Member & FlyerTalk Evangelist
 
Join Date: Jul 2002
Location: Durham, NC (RDU/GSO/FAY)
Programs: AA, DL, UA General Member, BW Gold, HH Gold, Amtrak Select Plus
Posts: 17,606
Heading to Chicago this weekend and am planning a CTA ride tomorrow. Already have my two singles and a quarter prepared
__________________
Celebrating a dozen years as a member of Flyertalk all month long.
CMK10 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old Dec 17, 10, 11:58 am   #15
 
Join Date: Jun 2008
Programs: UA, AA, WN, 7G, SPG (for now)
Posts: 512
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dianne47 View Post
I've been digging around for about an hour and can't find the answer to my query. If I arrive CHI at Union Station (overnite train from NYC), where can I use a credit card to buy a CTA fare card so I can ride the bus a few times? I plan a 24-hour stop in CHI.

Or should I just bring a roll of quarters and drive everyone nuts dropping 9 of them in the onboard fare box each time?
You can use your credit card at the CTA Pass machine that's in the Metra ticket lobby in Union Station. Link here; scroll to the bottom. It's near the baggage claim, opposite of the Metro Deli.

Quote:
Originally Posted by CMK10 View Post
Heading to Chicago this weekend and am planning a CTA ride tomorrow. Already have my two singles and a quarter prepared
If you travel to Chicago often, you should go ahead and get a Chicago Card.
ninja138 is offline   Reply With Quote
 
 
Reply

Bookmarks


Thread Tools Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are On
Refbacks are Off
Forum Jump


All times are GMT -6. The time now is 1:28 am.




SEO by vBSEO ©2011, Crawlability, Inc.