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CTA Cracking Down On Free, Reduced-Fare Fraud

By Chuck Sudo in News on Nov 12, 2014 7:00PM

Photo credit: Chicagoist/Chuck Sudo
If you use free or reduced-fare cards on the CTA be prepared to have them validated. The transit agency announced Wednesday they’ve been cracking down on fraud associated with the two programs after noticing an increase in free rides this year.

CTA has confiscated over 1,800 free and reduced-fare cards since October and estimates the potential annual revenue lost from the fraudulent usage at around $2.8 million. The agency is conducting a separate audit of free and reduced-fare card usage to determine if the cardholders are the only ones benefiting from them. CTA provides over $100 million in state-mandated free and reduced-fare rides annually, but the state only reimbursed $28 million of those rides last year. The audit and crackdown was prompted after CTA noticed a 20 percent spike in free rides this year—that’s nearly 8.6 million free rides, according to the agency.

CTA began card-verification checks at rail stations last month, verifying that the cardholder listed on the face of the card was the true owner. Persons who qualify for free or reduced-fare cards include seniors, persons with disabilities, U-Pass and student fares, among others.

“We take any incident of fraud seriously and are taking steps to protect innocent customers from being taken advantage of, as well as protecting all other fare-paying customers from having to subsidize improper use of these programs,” CTA President Forrest Claypool said.