Metra train

USA: Chicago commuter rail operator Metra has awarded VenTek International a two-phase contract worth up to $70m to supply 650 ticket vending machines and provide five years of maintenance, so that all 242 stations will have a TVM.

The weather-hardened machines meeting accessibility requirements will accept cash or credit cards, and could eventually support the Ventra app.

‘These machines will allow Metra to meet a long-standing goal of eliminating cash sales of tickets onboard trains, and all the accounting hassles and safety issues’, said Metra Executive Director & CEO Jim Derwinski on November 12.

‘But they will do much, much more, such as make tickets easier and more convenient to purchase, reduce person-to-person contact, speed up fare validation, reduce missed sales, reduce fare evasion, reduce printing costs, and allow for more flexible and promotional ticketing.

‘And, although other changes also would be needed, these vending machines can facilitate a best-practice proof-of-payment fare system — in which a ticket is required to board a train, with fines for those found without a valid ticket’.

They could also facilitate fare integration with other urban transport operators in the Chicago area, such as CTA and Pace.

In October 14% of Metra ticket sales were by conductors, 14% by station ticket offices, 2% through vending machine, less than 1% through a transit benefits programme and 69% through the Ventra app.