CHICAGO (CBS) — The Regional Transportation Authority’s new senior half-fare cards have only been in use since Labor Day, but it is already replacing hundreds each week.

As WBBM Newsradio’s Bob Roberts reports, the flimsy, bendable magnetic-stripe cards replaced hard plastic — and much more durable — smart cards issued under the Seniors Ride Free program that ended Sept. 1, 2011.

Since then, the RTA concedes, 10,000 of the new cards have broken, been chewed up, lost or stolen.

Seniors have grumbled about the change since the new cards were issued, but RTA spokesperson Diane Palmer said it had no choice. She said it could not obtain enough of the smart cards to do a full replacement, so it opted for the readily-available magnetic stripe cards.

The replacement cards are only temporary.

Palmer said, by 2014, Chicago-area transit agencies intend to replace all transit cards used today on the CTA, Metra and Pace so that payment can be made by smart credit cards, and possibly even smart phones.

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