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The MTA's Select Bus Service uses prepaid boarding
Photograph: Courtesy CC/Wikimedia Commons/Marc A. HermannThe MTA's Select Bus Service uses prepaid boarding

CTA to test prepaid boarding on Belmont bus this summer

Written by
Clayton Guse

Ever been on a CTA bus that keeps missing the lights because a bunch of fools can't figure out how to tap their Ventra cards? Well, the city is going to start testing a solution that's right out of New York's playbook: prepaid boarding.

Starting June 6, passengers boarding the #77 Belmont bus at the Belmont Blue Line station won't have to pay a fare as they board, but instead tap their card at a Ventra reader and wait in a designated prepaid boarding area. New York's MTA has a similar (albeit significantly better) payment system for their Select Bus Service. There, riders can pay for their fare at a stand that then gives them a ticket—bus drivers don't even check it, but if a cop asks a departing passenger to see their ticket and they're empty-handed, they could be subject to a fine.

Prepaid boarding makes a lot of sense, and it's one small step among several that the CTA has taken over the past year to make riding a bus in the city less of a logistical nightmare. In December, the city launched Loop Link—those downtown bus platforms accompanied by red bus-only lanes. The CTA also brought back the express #X9 Ashland and #X49 Western buses during rush hour, speeding up commute times on two of Chicago's busiest bus routes.

If the prepaid boarding test at the Belmont Station is a hit, we could see the CTA expand it to other points around town. At that point, you won't have to wait for the clueless fellow in front of you fail seven times at swiping his Ventra card on the bus (you have to hold it against the reader—not tap it, dummy). 

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