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What to do with your non-recyclable Chicago Card

November 04, 2013|By Tracy Swartz, @tracyswartz | RedEye

Farewell, Chicago Cards.

For nearly a decade, those blue and yellow plastic squares have been the way thousands of CTA riders have paid their fares. They were not always reliable—some were known to fall apart after normal wear and tear—but you didn’t have to take them out of your wallet to tap, as you have to do now with Ventra.

And soon, they will be extinct. Ventra, the CTA’s new fare payment system, is replacing Chicago Cards Nov. 15.

But what to do with your defunct Chicago Card?

Well, unlike the disposable magnetic stripe cards, you can’t recycle Chicago Cards. The city says the cards’ radio frequency-identification chip—which stores rider information—”causes a contamination with the rest of the recycling materials,” spokeswoman Molly Poppy said.

Poppy said she reached out to Earthworks, a Cleveland-based plastic card recycling company, which won’t take them either because of the chips.

“I would recommend for sure cutting them up,” Poppy said. “I wouldn’t just throw them away whole.”

If you don’t want to save the card or throw it away, consider donating it to Columbia art student Sid Yiddish, a former “America’s Got Talent” contestant. Yiddish is enrolled in a class where he makes guitar picks out of old gift cards and debit cards.

He’s made more than 85 now, and is looking to continue the project for his class, which ends in mid-December.

“The more, the merrier,” said Yiddish, of Evanston. Riders can send their cards to him at P.O. Box 5008, Evanston, 60204.

Ike, “The Situation”

Riders have until Thursday to submit their comments on the Illinois Department of Transportation Eisenhower Expressway proposals, which could improve access to the Forest Park branch of the Blue Line. Go to eisenhowerexpressway.com for more information.

Stationary

A weekly dispatch from a CTA station of note

This week: Oak Park Blue Line

As IDOT continues to gather feedback on its Eisenhower Expressway proposals, the CTA is undergoing a $1 million study of how to improve the Forest Park Blue Line branch, including the Oak Park Blue Line stop. At a expressway meeting last week in Oak Park, a CTA official said this section of the Blue Line is “at the end of its useful life.” The CTA held two meetings about potential track and station improvements and plans to hold another public hearing in late spring.

Next up: Jarvis Red Line

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