Celebrating 35 Years: The Joint Transit Card

35 Facts for CNT’s 35 Years: Each week we’ll expand on one fun fact. Enjoy!

#23 The Joint Transit Card

When CNT started IGO CarSharing in 2002, one of our goals was to have it serve as an extension of public transit. Although Chicago has a robust public transportation system, there are still trips that are more conveniently taken by car. To make it easier for Chicago residents to live without owning their own vehicles, IGO approached the Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) to explore development of a single transit card that could be used for CTA trains and buses and IGO vehicles.

CTA-IGOkeycard_closeup-croppedWith support from the Boeing Company, the Chicago Card Plus IGO Smart Card was launched in 2009, giving cardholders three ways to travel with just one card. The new joint smart card allowed access to CTA buses and trains, Pace buses, and IGO vehicles, making travel even more convenient for IGO members and CTA riders. In just over four years, about 20 percent of IGO’s 15,000 members became joint smart card carriers, and over 20 percent of all members reported increased usage of public transit after joining.

The Chicago Card Plus/IGO joint smart card was the nation’s first such card that bridged public transit and a car-sharing service. The joint smart card has kept a strong partnership between the CTA and IGO – a partnership that continues following IGO’s acquisition by Enterprise Holdings. As the CTA and Pace transition to the Ventra farecard system, they are working with IGO to develop an updated joint transit card that will work with the new technology.

You can sign up for IGO’s monthly newsletter at igocars.com to stay up-to-date on the new CTA/IGO option as it develops.

Beyond just bringing convenience to users, the CTA/IGO smart card carries environmental benefits. Having one shared card means less plastic is used to make Chicago’s transit farecards. It also encourages Chicagoland residents to take advantage of our extensive public transit and car sharing services, which helps reduce the number of privately owned vehicles on Chicago’s streets.

The CTA/IGO smart card is part of CNT’s broader work in making cities more livable and affordable for everyone. By making it easier to live without owning a car, innovations like the joint transit card allow people to avoid the major expenses of vehicle ownership while also reducing the amount of traffic and air pollution present in our communities. CNT and Alternative Transportation for Chicagoland, our nonprofit affiliate that previously operated IGO, continue to develop and advocate for solutions that make a range of transit options, like public transportation and car sharing, more easily accessible and convenient to use.

We’re celebrating CNT’s 35 years of impact on sustainable urban development through 35 weeks of posts like this one. If you have a story or picture from our past, please share it with Anjuli@cnt.org. Thanks!

CNT’s work is made possible, in part, through generous support from individual donors. Please click here to make a gift in honor of our 35th anniversary.

Next week: #24 Abogo