CTA president demands Ventra developer to address issues - Dallas News | myFOXdfw.com

CTA president demands Ventra developer to address issues

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CHICAGO (FOX 32 News) -

CTA commuters who've had trouble switching to the Ventra card system will get a little more time to make the switch. The CTA says there are still kinks to be worked out, so a November 5th deadline will be pushed back.

CTA President Forrest Claypool admitted Tuesday that the CTA is to blame for much of the confusion surrounding the new payment plan, but he also suggested the new payment system is working pretty well for millions of CTA riders.

"There is no question, overall, that Ventra is working as a system," Claypool said.

Claypool, at the City Club last week, said that 4.7 million riders boarded CTA trains and buses using their new Ventra cards. That was about 55 percent of all CTA customers, but he admitted that 7 weeks in, significant glitches still plague the program from customers being double-billed to problems transferring money from Chicago card accounts to Ventra cards. And when customers call to complain?

"There is one main area where our contractor's performance has simply not been up to par: the customer service call center," explained Claypool.

The complete transition to Ventra will now be postponed until average wait times on the hot line are under five minutes, and cards are processed at turnstiles in two and half seconds or less. A more difficult problem is making sure that when a Ventra card is in a wallet, that it's the Ventra account that gets charged, several CTA customers say that's their main complaint.

"When I have it with my credit card, sometimes it charges my credit card instead of my Ventra card," one rider said. "That's really the only issue I've ever had."

"It's okay, except when it charges my credit card incorrectly," added another.

Another rider that FOX 32 News spoke with Tuesday morning said he hasn't had any problems using his Ventra card, but he isn't surprised to hear so many other people are encountering problems.

"I have heard the complaints, the employees goat cussed at, yelled at. A lot of people had trouble, but I haven't so far," he said. "I hope they correct it sometime soon because a lot of people are having problems."

He was somewhat shocked that the CTA waited this long to ask for immediate steps toward a solution.

Richard Wunderle, a top executive with Cubic Transportation Systems, which installed the Ventra system, admitted multiple charge cards pose problems.

"What could happen, if you present your wallet, and it's like in the picture there, and if you have a monthly pass Ventra card, and you also have a Visa card in your wallet, it may charge the Visa card," Wunderle explained.

Cubic Transportation is set to receive almost half a billion dollars for installing and servicing Ventra over the next 10 years. Claypool says the company won't get a dime until the system is up to par. Cubic Transportation says be patient.

The transit authority intended to fully implement Ventra by Dec. 15, and get rid of the old fare payment system completely. Chicago aldermen are demanding answers from the CTA, since it looks like that deadline may be hard to meet.

Alderman Bob Fioretti said he made a phone call to the customer service location and he was put on hold for an hour. He said that is what makes him mad because he knows his constituents are dealing with. He said that is unacceptable, and he wants some answers.

"I thought they would have something in mind ahead of time before they got things rolling," he said. "But now they have a problem… I don't think it will be corrected soon."

Cubic Transportation says its systems have worked on transit systems ranging from New York to London to Sydney, Australia--and not one system has met with failure.

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