If you asked all the people who have emailed me desperate for help with various Ventra issues whether the rollout was "on track," I suspect they would disagree with that very assessment from a Cubic bigwig.
"A great deal of progress has been made already," said Matt Cole, executive vice president of strategy and business development at Cubic, in a phone interview Friday with the Tribune. "The publicized schedule was always to start in the summer, which we did, and complete by the end of the year, and we still think we are on track. That's the goal."
Of course, the folks at Cubic Transportation Systems are looking at the bigger picture, beyond individual complaints. They see these stats, released Friday by the CTA:
- "More than 63 percent of CTA rides are via Ventra. Every day, hundreds of thousands of riders use Ventra.
- "Call Center performance has improved, but more improvements and better performance is needed.
- "Rail tap times are meeting most performance standards, but improvement is needed. Software upgrades installed over the past two weeks have reduced tap times.
- "Bus tap times are well below performance standards. The same software upgrade already in place on rail has shown improvement on the initial 50,000 transactions, and the upgrade is being rolled out to all buses."
They don't see the many senior citizens who have written me, begging for help, for information, just wanting to get their reduced fare card and use it. Or the folks sharing problems getting the Ventra card to work under their transit benefits program.
The Tribune story also notes that the standard sought by CTA Prez Claypool of a Ventra tap transaction taking less than 2.5 seconds "is quite slow, certainly much slower than the Chicago Card that Ventra is replacing," said an expert on public transit fare collection. The CTA did issue a progress report on that front, according to the Trib.
The new tap response time data released by Cubic and the CTA — a three-day snapshot taken from Tuesday through Thursday — showed that 59 percent of the more than 2.8 million Ventra taps on the CTA rail system took a half-second or less, 35 percent took up to 1 second, 5 percent took up to 2.5 seconds and 0.3 percent took more than 2.5 seconds.
CTA officials acknowledged that tap-speed performance on buses was much worse, but the transit agency only provided data for approximately 200 of the system's more than 1,800 buses — about 50,000 taps. The Ventra card readers on those 200 buses have received software upgrades while the remainder of the fleet is awaiting the new software patch, officials said.
Even after the upgrade, just 54 percent of Ventra taps on those buses were processed in the contractually required one-half second or less, the data show.
So, there's still work to be done before Cubic starts getting at least $2.5 million per month on the $454 million contract that CTA signed with Cubic.
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