Management & Operations

Chicago agencies tap Cubic for integrated mobile app, services

Posted on December 17, 2014

Cubic Transportation Systems will supply Chicago area regional transit operators Chicago Transit Authority (CTA), Pace and Metra with an integrated mobile application and system supporting a wide variety of mobile ticketing, mobile top up, contactless mobile payment using Near Field Communication (NFC), account management and advanced trip planning features that work across all three regional agencies — an industry first. The solution will give travelers a single mobile app to plan their journey, pay and receive real-time alerts across all public transit services in the Chicago region.

The new mobile app and associated services extend the Cubic-supplied Ventra fare payment system to enable a smart phone-based common payment solution for the Chicagoland’s three largest operators. The implementation is the first truly regional transit app in the U.S. and the first to integrate proof-of-payment (both visual inspection and 2D bar code scanning) mobile commuter rail ticketing with NFC fare processing for CTA rail and bus operations across both CTA and Pace.

The base contract valued at $5.4 million is for the app development, hosting and support services. During the contract term, which coincides with the original Open Standards Fare System contract, Cubic also has the potential to earn commissions when tickets are purchased using the mobile app. Ventra is the first large U.S. fare system that is account based and built on open standards, giving riders the choice to pay directly by tapping their personal contactless bankcards, mobile wallets, or Ventra-branded smart cards at CTA and Pace fare terminals.

The solution is being provided as a managed service and is supported via the integration of Cubic’s NextWave Mobile Business System and GlobeSherpa’s mobile ticketing platform. It integrates with Ventra’s back office system using Cubic’s NextCity portfolio of account-based open payment solutions for transportation applications. NextWave is a comprehensive platform that enables transit operators to provide new mobile services to their customers while minimizing changes to fare systems and equipment. Cubic’s NextAccount and Cubic Payment Application components drive the single account for Ventra’s payment processing and back office systems across the three transit operators for transactions paid through the app, and all three NextCity elements are integrated with the GlobeSherpa platform. This integration makes the concept of a smart, integrated transit network a tangible reality for the regional Chicago area.

With the new app, Metra riders may use their mobile devices for both purchase and display of tickets and registered Ventra users will be able to manage their Metra mobile tickets, too. Ventra customers also will be able to use the app to add value to their card and manage their account including ordering and registering a card, checking balances, and managing payment and auto load. In later releases, Ventra customers with NFC phones will be able to store a virtual Ventra card in the phone and simply tap their phone at CTA rail turnstiles and to board CTA and Pace buses to access the  system.

The mobile app would be progressively introduced starting the first quarter of 2015 with periodic releases through 2016 offering new features and functions.

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