Problems for senior reduced fare cards pop up as free rides end Thursday

The end of free rides for all senior citizens comes Thursday. And problems with the new reduced-fare program are already coming to the surface. They include:

  • Lack of instructions on how to use the reduced-fare card. "How the devil do these cards work?" said Rita Shafer in a Tribune story. "Nothing in the totally useless information provided (by the RTA) tells one how to put money on the card."
  • Poor communications about the upcoming changes. "As these situations sometimes unfold, not every senior may have gotten the word," Claypool said at a news conference at the Red Line Cermak/Chinatown station.
  • Few places to add value to the magnetic strip cards, especially for the vast majority of seniors who will be riding buses. Value can only added at rail station vending machines.
  • The decision not to let seniors use smart fare cards with stored value that can be added via a credit card. The CTA said it doesn't have enough smart cards in inventory to offer them to seniors.

Read the CTA's guide to paying fares with a senior reduced fare permit.

And check out the video the RTA produced on how to use the reduced fare card. It's 11-minutes long, and one wag commented on the site:
"THIS IS FAR TOO COMPLICATED....AND I HAVE AN MBA ! CONDOLENCES TO BUS DRIVERS ON A SNOWY DAY WHO HAVE TO EXPLAIN IT TO 10 SENIORS BOARDING AT ONE TIME ! THERE EXITS ANY BUS SCHEDULE ! POX ON QUINN WHO PROMISED ON THE CAMPAIGN TRAIL THAT HE WOULD NOT RESCIND THE FREE RIDES !"

 

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  • There will be one additional problem coming up in a few weeks.
    Broken fareboxes.
    I noticed last year that I never got on a bus with a broken farebox anymore. I believe that was entirely due to the number of smart cards out there which don't use any of the farebox's mechanical parts.
    With all the new swipe cards, I expect to see broken fareboxes again.
    So the CTA may save money by not ordering more smart cards, but they'll pay out more to repair the fareboxes. And lose money because when the farebox is broken, everyone rides free.

  • I can't vouch for everyone, but one can look at chicagobus.org how one guy described the inept way the RTA ran this.

    One can note several other comments in that thread about expecting seniors to log onto YouTube.

    With foulup after foulup (I see you didn't go back to the rotten wood story), why can't anyone in power here see that those who run transit are incompetent?

    Is any other major metropolitan area's transit system run as incompetently is this one, or has as many apologists? Again, if there is, someone post concrete examples of the continual type of misfeasance we have here.

    Scooter: The RTA's rationale for the mag stripe cards is that CTA will have the bank cards next year. We'll see. At least they don't affect Metra conductors ;-).

  • In reply to jack:

    There's no way the bank cards will be ready next year.
    Every major world city uses its own fare media to ride, such as London's Oyster Card.
    I can't wait for the first data breach with this.
    That will be the lawyer's full employment program of 2013-2020!

  • Jack asks: "Is any other major metropolitan area's transit system run as incompetently is this one, or has as many apologists? Again, if there is, someone post concrete examples of the continual type of misfeasance we have here."

    I travel to NYC enough, and have read enough NYC-centric blogs and news coverage, to know that bitching and moaning about the MTA is major league sport in that city, too--as it should be. When I lived in Moscow--Russia, not Idaho--my friends and students could talk smack about subways and buses for hours.

    So, in other words, you are not alone.

    Hey, I like to think of myself as a grumpy old fart, too, but I also try to see the forest from time to time, not just the trees.

  • In reply to vise77:

    When I said concrete, I didn't mean general bitching and moaning.

    I mean stuff like blowing $101 million on defective buses, whatever on Brown Line platform wood, $300 million on Block 37, fiascoes on giving free rides and then taking them away, track inspectors that don't inspect track, resulting in fires, and all the other CTA incompetence, with dollar figures associated.

    Since I don't have time to scan NY blogs for general bitching, post some example of how NY wastes money and has bad results, like Chicago consistently does.

  • In reply to jack:

    "Since I don't have time to scan NY blogs for general bitching, post some example of how NY wastes money and has bad results, like Chicago consistently does."

    I think you are quite capable of doing your own homework. Hell, you won't believe me anyway. But other cities have massive transit problems, too. Whether you think they are worse or better than Chicago, I think, depends largely on whether you live on Chicago or whether you depend on the daily use of another mass transit system. There is hardly a single, objective metric.

    Before you toss your apologist label, please know that none of this is trying to get CTA off the hook. Hell, Francisco is my stop, and believe me, I am pissed at the tremendous waste of money we face--even a dolt such as myself knew right away that wood wouldn't hold. And CTA/RTA has done about a million things wrong in just the past three years.

  • In reply to vise77:

    So, since we have the admission that "CTA/RTA has done about a million things wrong in just the past three years" I guess any need for a comparison regarding if any place else is that bad is moot, so I withdraw my request.

    I'll also add for those who liked Frank, apparently the legacy of the incompetence of his staff continues to live on, as the planks at the Blagojevichville station were installed under his watch. Maybe in 50 years we will be purged of that legacy. In the meantime, I'm sure the current mayor won't be tripping over splinters at Montrose.

  • In reply to jack:

    "So, since we have the admission that "CTA/RTA has done about a million things wrong in just the past three years" I guess any need for a comparison regarding if any place else is that bad is moot, so I withdraw my request."

    You really need to travel more, I guess. I have been lucky enough to travel often, and I always use transit. While CTA is not among the best agencies, it is certainly not the only one--especially in the USA--that has major problems. Even Paris falls behind the CTA on certain regards, believe it nor not.

    But, Jack, you have your story and you are sticking to it.

  • In reply to vise77:

    You say that you don't want to be an apologist, but you say that everyone else has problems without specifying what they are.

    So, I guess you have your nebulous posts and are sticking with them.

  • I just watched all 11:12 of that RTA video.
    What a confusing piece of shit!
    The first minute is just useless garbage of logos & crap.
    Then they refer to the "automated fare collection unit" or "AFCU.
    It's a farebox, that's all you call it!
    Not once do they show how to put a swipe card into the farebox or turnstile at the L station!
    Then at the end, there's a separate section devoted to telling seniors how to use their cards to transfer from Metra to CTA or Pace.
    There isn't any way to do so, because they have to pay a new fare, so it could have been handled by one sentence, instead of an entire separate section & an entire wasted minute.

    This video/Powerpoint is proof that the RTA needs to be abolished.
    Actually, Powerpoint should be outlawed for any government agency, it's a total waste.

    If any seniors actually watched this disaster, I guarantee you, they're now totally confused on how to use the swipe cards.

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