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CTA to launch prepaid fare program on westbound Loop Link buses

Sun-Times file photo

The CTA announced Wednesday that it will begin a prepaid bus boarding pilot program next week on some Loop Link buses downtown.

Beginning Monday, customers will no longer have to pay fares as they board westbound Loop Link buses during the evening rush from 3-6:30 p.m., according to the CTA.

Instead, they will be able to pay their fares before entering the bus station on Madison at Dearborn by touching their Ventra card or ticket, or credit or debit card, at a special Ventra fare reader to enter the prepaid boarding area. The buses included in the program are the J14, 19, 20, 56, 60, 124 and 157 routes.

The goal is to allow commuters to board buses more quickly, and buses to depart more efficiently, according to the CTA. More than 2,300 customers board buses at the Madison and Dearborn station every day, according to the transit agency.

The pilot program will last three months.

CTA President Dorval Carter told board members at the monthly meeting Wednesday that the system is in the “early stages” of a similar prepay boarding pilot on the westbound 77 Belmont stop of the Blue Line and so far, the CTA “has seen positive results.”

In the Belmont pilot, prepaid boarding has reduced the time it takes for the average evening rush rider to board from 67 seconds to 30 seconds, staff said during the monthly meeting.

If bus drivers control rear doors, prepaid riders could enter from both the front and back doors, staff said. Otherwise, extra personnel might be used to allow double-door boarding.