Chicago Transit Authority wins 2016 APTA Innovation Award for multimodal app

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A first-of-its-kind multimodal transport app that offers Chicago travelers a ‘one-stop shop’ has won the top industry award for distinguished innovation among North American transit systems.

The Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) has announced that it will be awarded the 2016 American Public Transportation Association’s (APTA) Innovation Award for its Ventra transit app.

Developed with Metra, the Chicago area’s commuter rail system, and Pace, the suburban bus system, the Ventra app is the first of its kind in the country to allow customers to pay for rides on multiple transit systems with just one app, providing riders with a ‘one-stop shop’ experience that essentially puts both a Ventra vending machine and a Metra ticket vending machine in customers’ pockets. The CTA developed and owns the modern Ventra open fare, account-based payment system, which it launched in 2014. Following the installation of Ventra, the CTA was joined by Metra and Pace in developing the multi-transit system app, which launched in November 2015.

Since its launch, the app has been downloaded more than 700,000 times and customers have used it to purchase more than US$55m in fares across CTA, Metra and Pace. The app offers customers a wide range of functionality, including some never before available on phones, including account management, loading of transit value/passes, account notifications and integrated mobile ticketing on Metra. It also provides access to real-time transit tracker information for CTA, Metra and Pace all in one place. Future phases will offer additional services and conveniences. The Regional Transportation Authority’s Innovation, Coordination and Enhancement (ICE) provided funding for the app’s development.

“Innovation, collaboration and teamwork are the keys to success,” said Valarie J McCall, APTA chair and board member of the Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority. “The work of Chicago’s three public transit systems, with funding from the Regional Transportation Authority, has led to a great customer-friendly product that is a model for other cities with multiple transit systems.”

APTA’s acting president and CEO, Richard A White, added, “The 2016 Innovation Award is being given to the CTA for its lead role in creating the Ventra app with Pace, Metra, and the Regional Transportation Authority. Thanks to this innovative public transit fare app, which provides greater convenience and customer service, riders are able to purchase fares and more easily move between Chicago’s three public transit systems.”

CTA president Dorval R Carter Jr commented, “Leveraging technology to further improve the customer experience is a top priority at CTA and the Ventra app was developed with both Metra and Pace with that goal in mind. We thank APTA for its recognition of CTA’s efforts to create a modern fare payment system that subsequently allowed our partners at Metra and Pace to join us in creating greater convenience for Chicago transit riders.

“This award further proves the importance that technology plays in a 21st century transit system and we look forward to the continued development and benefits of the app in future phases to come.”

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Tom has edited Traffic Technology International magazine and the Traffic Technology Today website since he joined the company in May 2014. Prior to this he worked on some of the UK's leading consumer magazine titles including Men's Health and Glamour, beginning his career in journalism in 1997 after graduating with a law degree from the London School of Economics (LSE).

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