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06 November 2013 @ 09:50 pm
Mo' Ventra, mo' problems  
I'm going to talk a bit more about it, but the title of this article is a good summary: Ventra boss 'can't guess' when new fare system will work.

So, months ago, the news came out that Chicago was going to switch away from the current CTA fare system to a new one because of a law requiring the various transit groups (the CTA, the suburban Pace buses, and the Metra train system) to all use a unified payment system by 2015. Coming from Japanese transit, that sounded like a fantastic idea to me, and so I was all for it. There was some trouble a bit early on, though, when the CTA and Pace settled on a unified payment system using Ventra but Metra decided not to go along with it, at least not yet, which made me wonder what was going on? But, I figured I'd wait and say.

Well, see above for how well that turned out.

Originally, the CTA was supposed to stop taking Chicago Cards back in early October. That got pushed to November among repeated stories of people not getting their cards, getting their cards but not being able to register them, getting double-charged for fares, fare machines not collecting, calling customer support and having to leave a message so they could call customers back and never getting a call back, and basically everything that could possibly go wrong going wrong.

I'm fortunate in that I'm not writing this post to complain, because I've had very few of these problems. I didn't get my card until two weeks ago--and initially I thought it might have gone to one of the people who got dozens of them--but using the workaround to avoid calling Ventra I didn't have any problems activating it. My monthly transit passes through work successfully transfered over. I even managed to avoid the extra charges from having to swipe more than once through the patented method of holding my card down on top of the reader until it tells me to go instead of just swiping it past. That does take longer than the old method of waving your card in the general direction of the reader, though, and now there are lines to board the bus pretty much all the time.

I know this is Illinois and I shouldn't be surprised that anything involving transit becomes, a debacle, an obvious cash-grab, or both, but I'm surprised by just how incompetent the Ventra people seem to be. It makes me think that I shouldn't be thinking that I haven't had any problems, but that I haven't had any problems yet. Here's hoping for continued luck!
 
 
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