Drowning in a flood of customer complaints about Ventra card activation problems and woeful customer service, the CTA today backed off two big changes that had been effective since Monday.
- Riders now will be able to add value to their Chicago Cards.
- Magnetic stripe fare cards will now be sold again. Both transactions can be done at rail station fare vending machines.
The CTA also told Ventra to dramatically beef up the number of customer service representatives staffing the Ventra hotline: (877) 669-8368. Customers on Monday endured phone wait times of more than 30 minutes, as well as dropped calls after long waits.
The Ventra contractor, Cubic Transportation Systems, will triple the number of agents at the call center. It will take a few weeks to get staffing up to 300, CTA officials said. "These changes are designed to ensure customers have the full complement of fare payment options as the transition to Ventra continues," CTA President Forrest Claypool said.
The CTA is sticking to its next deadline of Nov. 15, when riders will no longer be able to use the Chicago Card or Chicago Card Plus. And they won't able able to add value to the mag stripe cards on Nov. 15. Riders can use them till Dec. 15.
Finally, the CTA has resent usernames and temporary passwords to Chicago Card Plus holders who have received but not yet activated their cards. Many customers have said they never received or deleted the email needed to activate the Ventra card.
At least the CTA was smart enough to make this move, albeit a few days late.