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South Shore Line's new ticket vending machines may lead to end of onboard cash payments

South Shore CVA

The ability to buy South Shore Line tickets on the train could soon be going away.

Northern Indiana Commuter Transportation District President Mike Noland says ticket sales have increasingly been moving toward digital options, like ticket vending machines and the South Shore Line mobile app. But conductors and collectors continue to accept cash payments onboard.

"Our ticket vending machines did not take cash. They would've required someone to have a credit card or a debit card, and not every member of our society — the un-banked and the under-banked don't have that flexibility," Noland told the NICTD board last week.

But the railroad recently rolled out vending machines that do accept cash, and once the kinks are worked out, Noland wants to revisit the idea of taking cash off the trains. "There's a number of reasons why that's good: Cash is difficult to manage. It takes away from the conductors' and collectors' primary duty, which is safety, and their secondary duty, which is customer service, if they're making a cash transaction with multiple people coming on the train," Noland said.

He says the change would save the railroad money but would also be a safety enhancement. Back in February, a Metra conductor was reportedly robbed at gunpoint at Chicago's Van Buren Street Station, which the South Shore also uses. But NICTD Police Chief Jessie Watts Jr. says the South Shore Line itself hasn't had any major issues in almost 20 years.

Noland told the NICTD board last week that he may request an official policy change this summer.