The Daily Parker

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Universal farecards? Yes, please

Traveling to San Francisco and London as often as I do underscores to me how crappy some things are in Chicago. Take our ridiculous transit fare systems. Metra, the heavy-rail system, still uses little paper tickets, while Ventra only works on CTA buses and trains. I want one card that would let me tap in and tap out of any public transit service in the city.

Citylab says this may be coming soon, at least to some cities:

Unified mobile ticketing means riders no longer need to worry about having the right change for the bus, or having time to buy a train ticket at the station after hitting a major traffic jam. And there’s seamless transitioning between modes of transit. But the digitization creates a lot of savings for the transit agencies themselves.

Then there’s the data. When transit operators have a massive live stream of data on how many people are buying tickets, where they are, where they’re headed, it allows for much more responsive management. They can tweak bus routes based on how the customers actually buy bus tickets and ride. Granted, this approach can’t truly transform American cities until everyone has access to the critical technology.

Given the speed of technological change in Chicago, we can probably expect this in the mid-2040s.

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