CTA to bill Ventra for 15,000 free rides after glitch

November 14, 2013 (CHICAGO)

The CTA's new fare system is still causing headaches for many commuters.

Even the faithful CTA riders are frustrated by the continued problems with Ventra. Although CTA officials say they are going to make those problems get fixed, for some it's too little, too late.

CTA rider Joshua Gaines is frustrated after his Ventra card won't work again.

"I don't know about the card or new system or how they set it up, but I blame it on the Ventra cards," he said.

It's another day of problems for some CTA riders trying to use the system's new fare payment method Ventra.

Thursday afternoon transit workers at the Roosevelt "El" stop tried to help out as critics of Ventra say, "I told you so."

"We repeatedly warned them that a private company's getting access to the fare box was perhaps not a good idea from the riders' perspective or the perspective of the CTA as a transit service," said Charles Paidock, Citizens Taking Action.

Thursday's glitches come after the CTA had to hand out 15,000 free train rides.

The transit agency billed the private company, Ventra, for the cost.

About 165 Ventra card reader machines went down around during Wednesday's evening commute and stayed down for anywhere from 15 minutes to an hour and a half.

It was a widespread issue at 60 train stations.

Second Ward Alderman Bob Fioretti, a member of the City Council Transportation Committee, wants a public hearing about the problem.

"I'm hearing across the city. When we raised the issue a couple of weeks ago and said we were going to introduce a resolution calling for a hearing, we heard from more people than you can imagine," he said

Since its rollout two months ago, CTA users have complained of everything from double-billing to long hold times at call centers. CTA president Forrest Claypool has vowed not to pay Cubic a dime until 99 percent of Ventra readers and vending machines work.

Despite the problems, out-of-towners Kathleen Derk and Mark Churray say something better than nothing.

"We like it because in Detroit we don't really have good public transportation at all, so we really like it. It's easy to use," Derk said.

All the problems have delayed a complete transition to the Ventra system. In the meantime, the developer of Ventra is doing its part. They are increasing and changing their software, updating that, as well as adding operators to their call center.


You can share your experiences with the new Ventra fare system on the CTA. We want to hear the good with the bad (but please keep them clean).

You can e-mail us photos or videos with your story at useeit@abc7chicago.com

You can also go online and upload photos and images directly at useeit.abc7chicago.com (just select #DearCTA as the channel).

Or, you can also send us images and stories on Facebook and Twitter at ABC 7 Chicago or @ABC7Chicago (we ask that you include the hash tag #DearCTA) .

We'll look at the submissions and may share some of them on air and online as we continue to cover the rollout of this new fare system across Chicago.

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