CHICAGO — The CTA is testing prepaid bus-boarding at two new locations in hopes of reducing lines and getting buses moving faster.
The two stops affected are:
• The 69th Street Red Line station between 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. weekdays for the westbound No. 67 (67th/69th/71st) and southbound No. 29 (State Street).
• Inner Lake Shore Drive and Belmont in Lakeview between 6:30 a.m. and 9:30 a.m. weekdays for the southbound No. 146 (Inner Drive/Michigan Express) and No. 135 (Clarendon/LaSalle Express).
The pilot is expected to run for at least four months.
“By piloting prepaid boarding at select locations, customers can pay fares in advance and board buses much like they do boarding the ‘L’ — which gets customers to their destinations more efficiently and reduces delays that occur during busy rush periods,” a statement from CTA said.
The prepaid system lets riders tap their fare cards to enter a designated "paid" waiting area, and when the bus arrives, they board freely, similar to the rail system.
Last year, CTA tested prepaid bus service at the Belmont Blue Line station and at the Madison and Dearborn Loop Link station.
The Belmont test lasted for a year and found that prepaid boarding saved an average of 38 seconds per bus trip, said CTA spokeswoman Irene Ferradaz. Permanent prepaid service is being considered as part of a planned redesign of the station.
In the Loop Link test, the CTA found a savings of 16 seconds per bus. The CTA hasn't decided whether prepaid bus fares will become permanent in the Loop.