All a-Twitter about incorrect expiration dates for some CTA Chicago Card Plus customers

My brother Dan was monitoring Twitter yesterday, as usual, looking for #cta hash tags with info about possible CTA delays or problems reported by riders to Tweet at our CTA Tweets Twitter account.

he didn't find any delays reported, he did find a few people Tweeting
about free rides due to defective Chicago Card Plus cards:

@ aribendersky:
"Just learned #CTA chgo card plus software is broken thru aug. If u hve
card u should be able to ride bus/train for free. Drivers know. RT"

And of course that got re-tweeted and twisted around in the big bad Internet frontier.

So I asked the CTA about it, and they quickly issued a press release stating:

Chicago Transit Authority has alerted approximately 3,500 customers who
use Chicago Card Plus that the expiration date listed online for their
account may be incorrect and that the card may expire this week. The
incorrect expiration dates impact only 1.1% of all Chicago Card Plus as
there are 329,645 cards in circulation.

The cards are encoded to last four years and more than 50,000
Chicago Card Plus cards are due to expire in 2009 - with the majority
expiring in July. CTA has been sending email reminders to customers
whose cards are due to expire, however, because of a programming error
that occurred when the cards were originally encoded, some cards are
due to expire earlier than CTA records indicated.

Of course the lesson is, don't believe everything you read on the Internet.


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  • You really can't trust everything you hear on the Internet, Twitter especially! Have to consider the source and whether or not you trust him/her. Too bad that people retweeted this...

  • I am one of the 1.1% affected and not all of the station attendants know about this problem. But the tweet was somewhat correct, the CTA is giving the affected card owners free rides until they can send new cards.

  • The CTA did indeed notify the 1.1%, but after the expiration had already occurred. Useful.

    And the bulletin to employees about procedures to let people with expired cards ride didn't seem to have gotten out on all routes/from all garages. Midday today it took getting kicked off one bus, 30 minutes on hold and a CTA customer service rep talking over my phone speaker to the driver of another bus to get me on one route. My experiences the remainder of the day, however, were surprisingly courteous drivers and station attendants.

    This incident does support the idea that the Card program as currently designed is difficult for the CTA to administer.

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