Customers who purchase tickets for Metra, the Northeast Illinois commuter rail system, through the agency’s website now have the ability to split their payments among credit and debit cards, including pre-tax transit benefit debit cards, Metra announced today.
“This new feature removes a huge barrier for more than half of our customers who take advantage of transit benefit programs and want the convenience of purchasing their tickets online,” said Metra Executive Director/CEO Don Orseno. “We’ve heard from our customers that this has been a challenge and we are extremely pleased to be able to offer this solution.”
A recent survey indicates that 52% of Metra customers purchase their tickets through a pre-tax or employer-paid transit benefit program. These programs allow users to set aside pre-tax earnings via payroll deduction and use the funds to purchase transit tickets. Using pre-tax dollars can help transit users reduce commuting costs by up to 40%.
Most transit benefit programs use a debit card system, where value is added monthly and the cards can only be used for ticket purchases. However, the IRS limits payroll deductions for transit to $130 per month, and in some cases this amount is not sufficient to cover the entire cost of a monthly ticket, requiring the use of a supplemental form of payment.
The ability to split payments while purchasing tickets through the agency’s website resolves this issue for Metra customers, who can now use up to two credit or debit cards on a single purchase. Previously, the ability to split payments between more than one credit or debit card was limited to Metra ticket agent locations. The upcoming Ventra App will also allow customers to split payments between two options when purchasing Metra mobile tickets.
Customers who wish to purchase their tickets online and use the split payment feature can visit www.metrarail.com and purchase 10-ride or monthly tickets through the “Tickets” section of the site. Customers can also create a “My Metra” account and schedule regular monthly purchases. Current “My Metra” account holders can also modify their accounts to take advantage of the new split payment feature.