Homewood and Flossmoor area rail riders will need to take a credit card or mobile device with them starting Monday, May 1. The cash-only ticket machines are being removed from Metra stops.
Metra cites steady declines in ticket sales through cash-only vending machines as more customers choose credit cards and mobile devices for purchasing tickets.
The machines on the electric line, which has stops in Homewood and Flossmoor, are the last to be removed from Metra’s system, according to a Metra statement.
The company said ticket prices will not be affected by the change.
“As our customers have embraced new technology available to purchase their tickets, we’ve continued to look for ways to use our limited resources as efficiently as possible,” said Metra Executive Director/CEO Don Orseno. “Purchases made through the cash-only vending machines have declined to the point where it is no longer cost efficient to maintain them.”
Between 2012 and 2016, sales at cash vending machines on Metra Electric declined from 35.9 percent of overall ticket sales to 14.4 percent.
The most significant contributor to this change in buying habits was the introduction of the Ventra App in late 2015, according to Metra officials. Currently, the app accounts for 19.7 percent of tickets on the line, with purchases from credit card vending machines and onboard purchases also seeing slight increases.
Metra estimates that phasing out the cash vending machines will reduce operating expenses by $534,000 annually. This figure includes the costs of maintaining, servicing and stocking the machines.
The cash-only machines will be removed from service at 15 stations, including Millennium Station, on April 30.
In addition, customers on Chicago-bound trains without access to credit card or mobile purchasing options will be able to pay with cash on board without incurring the on-board purchase penalty.
The exception to that rule is for outbound passengers departing from Millennium or Van Buren Street stations. Passengers departing from these stations will be required to purchase their tickets before boarding, or they will be assessed a $5 penalty for purchasing their tickets on board.
This is an existing policy that already applies to customers boarding at those two stations and at all stations with ticket agents on the Metra system.