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CTA adding vending machines for phone chargers, snacks, photo booth

MobileQubes

For riders with a dead phone battery, the transit service is rolling out 35 vending machines — called MobileQubes — that will dispense battery charging packs. | MobileQubes Facebook Page

Three new kinds of vending machines will be installed at CTA stations in the next few months, providing riders with a photo booth, phone-charging battery packs and healthy snacks, the Chicago Transit Authority announced Wednesday.

For riders with a dead phone battery, the transit service is rolling out 35 vending machines — called MobileQubes — that will dispense battery charging packs. The packs can either be purchased for $49.99, according to the company’s website, or rented at a cost of $4.99 on the first day and 99 cents for every additional day of use. CTA said riders will see these machines at 26 CTA stations, mostly on the Red Line.

Four vending machines stocked with Farmer’s Fridge salads, soups, sandwiches, snacks and drinks will be installed at the Grand stop on the Red Line, the Indiana stop on the Green Line, the Damen stop on the Pink Line and the Fullerton stop on the Red, Brown and Purple Lines.

The CTA will also install a photo booth at the Chicago Avenue stop on the Red Line that will offer portraits for $5 and passport and ID photos for $14.99.

“It has been my goal since day one to further enhance the transit rider experience and these pilots keep CTA on the cutting-edge of offering transit riders unique and practical services as part of any trip on our system,” CTA President Dorval Carter said in a news release. “This is just one way we are taking a fresh look at making taking public transit even more convenient for the on-the-go traveler.”

Riders on Wednesday evening weren’t sure the new amenities were necessary.
“I think it’s a waste of money,” said 24-year-old Linda Harris after walking out of the Red Line Chicago station, where the photo booth will be installed.

Harris, who rides the Red and Blue lines daily, said she would consider using the phone battery packs.

On her list of priorities ahead of photo booths and healthy snack stations are a faster commute, Harris said.

Other riders took to social media to weigh in.

“This @cta Brown Line doesn’t need snacks, but heated shelters on the platform would be nice!” Judy Raddue tweeted.

“Just run more trains,” wrote Kevan Davis on Facebook.

Others were confused by the food and snack options, since eating is discouraged on all CTA trains and buses.

“So now that they are selling snacks, I guess you can eat on the buses and trains?” asked James Drummer on Facebook.

Mary Puckett Shaughnessy said buying food on a CTA platform does’t sound very appetizing.

“Yum. Train salads,” he wrote on Facebook.

CTA riders can expect to see these new vending machines in the spring.

Contributing: Nader Issa