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Fraudulent CTA Rides, Card-Use Cost City $6.5 Million

By Jim Bochnowski in News on Jul 1, 2015 5:10PM

Photo credit: Tripp

CTA investigators announced that fraud has cost the transit agency $6.5 million, but use of fraudulent CTA cards is now down 20 percent since a system-wide crackdown last year.

Last November, after noticing a suspicious increase in the number of free riders in the system, CTA officials began checking to make sure that individuals using free and reduced fee cards actually qualified for them. The CTA is required by law to subsidize fares for low-income seniors, people with disabilities, and students, which adds up to approximately $100 million in free and reduced rides.

Tuesday the CTA announced the results of this crackdown, which showed a decrease in the use of fraudulent CTA passes, according to the Chicago Tribune. From mid-November through mid-May, the city averaged 137 card confiscation per week, with the number of confiscation dropping 48 percent since November. In total, the CTA has taken 5,400 cards from people who were not registered to use the card.

The investigation revealed that only 1 percent of all CTA cards are being misused, with intentional card-sharing the leading cause of fraud. CTA officials told the Tribune that seniors who are issued free ride cards "may assume it's permissible to lend the card to relatives and friends," but the investigation did find cases of people selling rides to strangers for as little as $1 a ride. The total fares lost add up to about $6.5 million in lost revenue for the city.

The city has contacted the rightful cardholders of all the confiscated cards, and have asked those users how the cards got into someone else's hands. Only 38 percent of those surveys have been returned to the CTA.