Ventra card: CTA apologizes to customers for high call volumes, doubles staff

The CTA on Monday directed the Ventra vendor to double its customer service staff to meet call demand, a spokesperson said in an email to CTA Tattler.

"The call times that many customers are experiencing are unacceptable, and we apologize for the inconvenience,"said the CTA's Brian Steele.

Ventra customer-service call volumes have been much heavier than expected. For example, by mid-afternoon Monday Ventra phone lines had more than 10,000 calls. But Steele urges riders to listen to the self-service prompts and not just press zero right away to get to an operator. "Many people are simply pressing "0" without hearing all the options available," Steele said. "That puts them in the longer general queue, vs. a shorter one that could help them more quickly."

For example, on Monday - which is usually the highest call-volume day for any call center - 7,500 people pressed zero to talk to a live operator. Their average wait time was 33 minutes.

By comparison:

Time marches on, and more and more CTA customers are switching to Ventra. The CTA this weekend surpassed 11 million taps with Ventra, with the contactless pass representing about 34 percent of all rides.
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  • Didn't Steele promise this 3 weeks ago? What is going to be the wait tomorrow?

    Also, having dealt with three phone trees today (none of them CTA), the phone tree can go where the sun doesn't shine. At least, though, I got humans after about 3 minutes, and one could explain the incomprehensible message on their web application, and stayed on long enough for me to complete the transaction.

    Also the 3 phone trees asked me if I wanted to take a survey, to which I said no. I can only imagine what would happen if the CTA had such an option.

    But it is time for Steele to quit blaming the customer (this time for pressing 0) and start serving the public. What really is his clout that keeps him in a $165K job when he is ineffective? He can't even tell a straight story about the on hold cars being left with the power on (I decided to throw one to Scooter, just to be fair).

    And since Graham Garfield is in charge customer service, maybe ask him why there isn't any.

  • In reply to jack:

    Anytime someone tells me the best way to negotiate a voicemail phone tree, I look at that as a welcome service.

  • In reply to Kevin O’Neil:

    1. A phone tree still stinks.

    2. He didn't tell you how to negotiate a phone tree, he just told you to negotiate a phone tree. For instance, what to do if you have to push neuve por Espanol or only understand Polski.

    3. As I made clear, it isn't his job to use you as his free PR agent, but to fix the system and quit blaming the customers. It isn't their fault that CTA's contractor understaffed the call center by maybe a factor of 50. Doubling every 3 weeks doesn't seem to get the job done. Even hiring Majoolah in Mumbai would be an improvement.

    4. WGN-TV now says triple. But all it indicates is that the stink has spread to the TV level from mere blogs and FB. So, Steele isn't doing his job as a flack effectively, either.

  • Sun-Times now says Cubic is running the call center. Maybe someone at CTA could tell them to do something for the $450 million. Or, as I said, do we see another NABI lawsuit brewing?

    This is sure ;-) going to help Cubic get other contracts.

  • I am so frustrated at the conflicting information out there. The customer service rep for CTA said if you have a registered CC the balance will automatically transfer to your Ventra card (that I haven't yet received) but the CTA website said the balance will NOT transfer. If it isn't going to automatically transfer I may as well buy a Ventra and attend one of the dwindling number of transfer events. To add to the continuing ineptness of CTA/Ventra, most transfer events were scheduled in Sept and beginning of Oct - before the CC were even sent out.

    Does anyone know for sure if the CC balance will transfer automatically? And Mr. Steele, it's not the long wait times that bothered me, it was getting disconnected every time I was speaking to a customer rep.

  • In reply to 4bim:

    According to news reports, only the CC Plus transfers automatically, not the CC.

    But since you said you were registered, maybe you have to double check what you actually have.

  • In reply to jack:

    I have just the CC card. It could also be registered like a CC Plus card.

  • In reply to 4bim:

    Then you have to go to one of the events or to HQ to transfer the balance, and no sense waiting for a Ventra card in the mail.

  • Hmm, an apology for the wait--but no apology for the abysmal management and resulting massive chaos that has thrown people onto the mercies of a phone system to try to do what should have been made easy?

    Try again, Mr. Steele.

  • In reply to CCWriter:

    A mass firing would be nice to see too.

  • Where is a list of these transfer events. Why can't the CTA post information that can be found easily?

  • In reply to Richard S.:

    Here is the list:

  • fb_avatar

    Kevin, I finally got in touch with someone regarding the military service pass and the switch to ventra. It is not being treated like a reduced fare transition where we will receive them in the mail. I am not perfectly clear here on the details, but the gist of it was there is a communications breakdown between the veterans affairs and the CTA, where the CTA does not have names and addresses of those of us with the military service pass, and there will be announcements on the busses, flyers, etc, and something about the first couple of weeks in November where we will be directed to specific locations to get the ventra card for the transition. This is from a nice lady at CTA who I was transferred to, but I was not able to clearly make out her name, cell phones... Mrs Jenner or something? Anyway, just some FYI for the disabled vets out there who are starting to wonder what's gonna happen to them in two months...

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