08/26/2010 10:58 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

CTA Fares Could Be Paid Using Smart Phones

You can use a mobile phone for just about anything these days, and now the folks at the Chicago Transit Authority are hoping to save some money by allowing riders to use phones to pay fares.

According to the Chicago Sun-Times, the CTA is looking into an "open fare collection system," which would allow owners of smart phones to either download a fare payment application or install a computer chip. The rider would then "tap their phones on a touch pad, just as they currently do with fare cards."

CTA President Richard Rodriguez said the plan would increase ridership and cut costs. Fewer employees would be needed to handle cash, and vending machine maintenance would be less of an issue.

"It would also reduce our expenses with having to print up all these cards that we do and have our customers go through two or three different steps to obtain this when you already have a credit card [or cell phone] in your pocket," Rodriguez told the Sun-Times.

WGN reports that the CTA is looking for a private company that would fully fund the new system.

A similar system is already common in Europe and Asia.