A daylight savings time ripoff? No, says the CTA

daylight savings time.jpg

It seems that every year at this time — when daylight savings time is about to go into effect — I get an e-mail from a reader outraged that the CTA is ripping them off
for one hour on their weekly pass. I got an e-mail yesterday from Teri explaining her plight:

I ran my new 7-day pass through the turnstyle at 8:17 a.m. today and it stamped an expiration date of
a.m. on my card instead of 8:17 a.m.  This effectively eliminates a
whole ride
for me and actually steals $2.50 out of my pocket. The customer service
tried to explain that I still get the same amount of hours, but that
true. By marking my card 7:17 a.m. even though I actually checked in at
a.m., it prevents me from getting a ride on that card if I arrive at
8:10 a.m.
on the 7th day.  I did the calculation and, because the CTA changed the
before daylight savings time, they effectively steal a ride from all
using the 7-day pass between now and Sunday at 11:59 p.m.

A CTA spokesperson tries to clarify the situation for us:

This is the same question someone asks every year. The passes are good for the equivalent of seven 24-hour days. The time change is this weekend. So someone swiping a 7-day card at 8:17 on Nov. 3 will correctly be given an expiration time of 7:17 a.m. on Nov. 10th. That is (7 X24) hours later. Another way to think of it is because clocks are turned back this weekend, Sunday is a 25 hour day.

The fare collection system is programmed to make the change automatically so that 7 and 30 days passes that are used within this time period are correctly recorded.

Well Teri, maybe you can get that free ride back in March when we “spring forward.”


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  • Really it is a no-win situation for the CTA and lots of other businesses as well. If they did not take Daylight Saving Time into account, Teri would probably complain about losing the hour in spring. I still don't understand why we can't just end this lunacy once and for all.

  • I guess the surprising thing is that a 7 day pass is down to the minute, as opposed to saying that if you bought it on Monday it is good though next Sunday. In that case, she wouldn't have gotten any ride on Monday. If she gets out of bed early, she can still get the Monday ride.

  • I wonder just how much money the CTA potentially stands to lose from "free" rides if they were extend the time-sensitive cards by that one hour over the change from Saving to Standard time. And whether it's worth the amount of good will and satisfied customers they'd generate by doing so.

    I'm not surprised that the card are down to the minute, as Jack says. I know that they're activated on the first swipe and it makes sense that they would expire at that moment 7 days later.

    I also wonder if Teri (and others that have written to the CTA, since they say Teri's not alone) makes a habit of leaving a few minutes earlier on that 7th day to squeak out an extra ride on her card.

  • I'm confused as to why Kevin and commenters seem to be believing that the situation does in fact take one hour away from your pass. It doesn't!! Because the clocks are moved back the 8:17am next week will become 7:17am. We change our clocks but that doesn't change the time continuum!! 7:17am next week will be EXACTLY 24 hours X 7 days after she bought her card! What is the issue here??

  • In reply to avondale3:

    The issue is that Teri thought she could get a free ride if she went through the turnstile Nov. 1 at 8:18, and got up a few minutes earlier and went through it at 8:10 on Nov. 8. I don't know if she has a rolling pattern of trying to get, say, 11 weekday rides out of a weekly pass instead of the expected 10. I suppose she thought that she could first present the Nov. 8 pass at 5:15, and have it available for a ride home on Nov. 15, but what if she can't get out of work early then?

    Of course, if she wasn't being pedantic, she could get up an hour earlier on Nov. 8 and get the 11th ride.

  • In reply to jack:

    Aha! I see. So Teri was trying to get something that she was not entitled to and is complaining now that she found out the system is working the way it should. That sounds pretty typical.

  • In reply to avondale3:

    I don't know if the last conclusion necessarily follows.

    I remember that when 2 hour transfers were first instituted (around 1974), passengers would plan their business so that the bus ride and business took approximately 1:45, and they could get a free ride home. However, if the bus was late, you had to pay a second fare.

    So, to put in another context, it is the distinction between tax avoidance and tax evasion.

    Nonetheless, as so explained, I have no sympathy for Teri.

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