By TONIA HILL
Cash-only vending machines will be removed from service on the Metra Electric line at the end of this month. Metra will remove the remaining cash-only machines from 15 stations on the line including the machines at 51st/53rd Street (at Lake Park Ave.) Metra stations.
The move according to Metra spokeswoman, Meg Thomas-Reile will help to alleviate costs. Thomas-Reile said there had been a steady decline in ticket sales through cash-only vending machines.
More customers riding the Metra are opting for credit card and mobile purchasing for tickets. Between 2012 and 2016 sales at cash vending machines on the Metra Electric line declined from 35.9 percent of overall ticket sales to 14.4 percent.
The contributing factor of the change was the launch of the Ventra app in 2015. According to Metra, the app accounts for about 20 percent of the line, with purchases from credit card vending machines and onboard purchases.
Metra estimates that phasing out cash vending machines will reduce operating expenses by $534,000 annually, that includes the costs of maintaining, servicing, and stocking the machines.
The change only affects the Metra Electric Line because the line still has cash vending machines.
Customers will still be able to purchase tickets from credit card vending machines, which are present at 20 stations in Metra Electric Stations, the Ventra App and ticket agents at Millennium and Van Buren stations. Customers who do not have access to a credit card or mobile purchasing options can pay with cash on board.
The exception to the rule, which is already existing Metra policy applies if a customer is boarding the train at Millennium Park, 151 E. Randolph St., or Van Buren Metra Station, 1 E. Jackson Blvd., where a $5 penalty is applied if you boarded at a station with a ticket agent.
The cash-only vending machines will be removed from service Sunday, April 30.