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CTA banks on gift vending machine

The CTA is banking that enough people want transit collectibles that it's now offering CTA gifts by vending machine.

The CTA has sold $1,500 in merchandise from the gift vending machine the agency put in the lobby of its Near West Side headquarters in March, spokeswoman Lambrini Lukidis said. The most popular items are umbrellas and toy trains.

Last year, the CTA earned more than $7,000 in revenue from its collectibles site CTAgifts.com, which launched five years ago. The CTA has made more than $275,000 in gift revenue since 2008, Lukidis said.

There are no immediate plans to install other gift vending machines.

"Right now, we're just kind of tracking the performance of this one," Lukidis said. "We're open to expanding it if it does well."

The CTA's gift revenue pales in comparison to New York's revenue. New York generated more than $3 million in gift sales last year through its online site and two storefronts, a spokesman for the Metropolitan Transportation Authority said.

New York's subway system, the largest in the country, logged 1.6 billion rides last year compared to the CTA's 545 million rides. The CTA is the country's second largest public transportation system.

Copyright © 2015, RedEye
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