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Findings of Peer Review of Interoperable Smartcard Programs 35 Transit agency board decisions culminating in September 2003 have affirmed Phase II, or full regional deployment of TransLink. GGT and AC Transit will be the first agencies to offer full operational availability to their patrons in mid 2006, followed by BART and Muni in late 2006. TransLink will become available on the remaining 16 operators in 2007 and 2008. 3.1.2.1 Fare Policies The following fare policies and customer features define the TransLink Program: Card Fee--Phase I Demonstration-free. Phase II--$5 card deposit proposed; Fare Products--Multiple transit products, including e-cash, passes, and transit ride products (electronic ticket-books), inter-operator transfers; Fare Categories--Adult, youth, and senior/disabled; and Other Features--Balance protection, autoload, and negative balance. 3.1.2.2 Transit Benefits Program Employees of participating employers can elect to have their transit benefits loaded directly onto their TransLink card via autoload. 3.1.2.3 Loyalty Program No loyalty programs are planned. 3.1.3 Chicago Card As part of an effort to make fare payment easier, more reliable, and flexible, the Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) in August 2000 conducted a 6-month smartcard-based fare payment pilot pro- gram. CTA's pilot, designed to test the feasibility of smartcard technology and to gauge customer acceptance, involved the distribution of 3,500 contactless smartcards used at designated sites and rail stations. CTA's existing fare collection system, purchased from CTS in 1997, was already con- figured for smartcards. In addition, CTA integrated the farebox, manufactured by GFI Genfare, with the bus farecard machine (BFM). The CTS BFM processes both magnetic tickets and smartcards. In September 2001, following a successful pilot, CTA awarded a contract to CTS to increase the card base to 300,000 over a 3-year period. In late 2002, CTA announced the systemwide launch of the Chicago Card, a stored-value smartcard that can be used as fare payment on CTA bus and rail vehicles and Pace buses. The devices used for their system include Turnstile faregates, Transit card vending machines, and Fareboxes. Customers may add value to their Chicago Card only at TVMs at CTA rail stations and some offsite locations such as grocery stores and currency exchanges. Registration and balance pro- tection of the Chicago Card is available to customers. In January 2004, CTA launched Chicago Card Plus, an account-based smartcard program that supports stored-value and 30-day passes. An added feature and requirement of the Chicago Card Plus is the automatic reloading capability that allows customers to charge their credit card for a user-determined amount each time the account balance falls below the $10 threshold. Chicago Card Plus customers can also direct their transit benefits to their card accounts. Chicago Card Plus customers cannot add value to cards at TVMs. Orders for Chicago Card and Chicago Card Plus are accepted on line, by phone, by mail, or in person at CTA headquarters. Both the Chicago Card and Chicago Card Plus provide pass-back privileges, which allow up to seven customers to board the same bus or enter the same rail station using one card. A full fare or