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The Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) yesterday announced that excessive use of free and reduced-fare cards dropped 21 percent since the agency began efforts to cut down on improper use last year.At rail stations throughout Chicago and neighboring suburbs, CTA teams have been verifying that people using any type of free or reduced-fare cards are indeed authorized to do so. The cards, which are given to seniors and people with disabilities, can be used only by the individual identified on the card.For card confiscations and cards with excessive use, CTA sends letters to authorized cardholders to verify that the they possess the cards. If unable to confirm authorized excessive use, CTA will suspend a customer's card in case it's lost or stolen, agency officials said.CTA officials are pleased with the crackdown’s progress, “but it is clear that there’s more work to do,” said CTA President Dorval Carter Jr. in a statement.Through verification efforts across the system, increased oversight and customer communications, CTA has logged a 48 percent drop in card confiscations from unauthorized users, agency officials said in a press release.Despite the decreases in fraudulent use and card confiscations, improper card usage has resulted in $6.5 million in losses for CTA, according to The Chicago Tribune.The agency has continued to review the use of 600,000 cards issued by the Regional Transit Authority, the parent group tasked with overseeing the CTA.Each year, the agency provides more than $100 million on free and reduced-fare rides for seniors and persons with disabilities. Although the rides are mandated by state and federal governments, the agency receives "only a small percentage of reimbursement from the state," CTA officials said. The agency received around $28 million in 2014, while the remaining costs were paid for from CTA's annual operating budget.
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