Chicago transit riders will soon have the option to charge their electronic devices, snap new passport photos, and even buy fresh salads from new specialty vending machines at select CTA stations. The devices are set to debut this spring as part of pilot program, announced by the agency on Thursday.
First up is MobileQubes, a machine that sells and rents battery packs that can be used to charge phones and other devices. The initial roll-out calls for 35 machines to be located at 26 stations, mostly along the Red Line. The service, which requires a $4.99 registration fee plus an additional $0.99 per day, debuted at Union Station in 2015.
In its push to provide more passenger amenities, the CTA will also test out a single DNP Photo Booth at the Chicago Avenue Red Line stop. The device can be used for snapping passport or ID photos on the go for $14.99 as well as souvenir photos for $5.
Machines from Farmer’s Fridge will offer fresh ready-to-eat snacks and meals at four L stops: the Red Line station at Grand, the Green Line’s Indiana stop, the Damen Pink Line station, and the Fullerton stop serving the Red, Brown, and Purple lines. The Chicago-based company uses organic, locally-sourced ingredients prepared at its Fulton Market facility.
The new amenities are designed to improve rider experience while also generating a new source of revenue for the agency. The vending companies will be on the hook to cover all associated installation, maintenance, and utility costs, according to the CTA.
“[The pilot program] is just one way we are taking a fresh look at making taking public transit even more convenient for the on-the-go traveler,” said CTA president Dorval Carter in a statement.
The announcement comes roughly one month after the CTA debuted free Wi-Fi service at the Blue Line stop at Clark and Lake. The offering has since been expanded to other Blue Line stations including Washington, Monroe, and Jackson.