Public hearing Monday for CTA's new fare payment system

Here’s a wrapup of some CTA news stories.

Hearing set for Monday on Ventra fare system. The $3 price of a single-use rail fare card no doubt will be a hot topic of conversation at Monday’s public hearing on the new CTA’s Ventra fare-payment system. Riders who don’t have a Ventra card or contactless debit/credit card would purchase a single-use fare card for $3 – $2.25 for the base rail fare, 25 cents for a transfer (whether needed or not), and a 50-cent “limited-use media fare.” Riders would still be able to use cash to pay for the $2 bus fare. A CTA spokesperson said only about 4 percent of rider buy single-use tickets. No doubt even fewer will in the future. The hearing will begin at 6 p.m. Monday at CTA headquarters, 567 W. Lake St.

200 new jobs AND cleaner buses and rail cars. The CTA announced last week it will expand its ex-offender apprentice program – quadrupling the current number of apprentice opportunities on bus and rail to as many as 265. The non-violent ex-offenders earn $9.50 an hour for duties that will include platform servicing, bus and rail yard sweeping, rail car shop cleaning and general interior cleaning and detailed exterior cleaning of buses and trains.

Free rides for green beer next weekend. Miller Lite again will sponsor a free shuttle on two routes next weekend for St. Patrick’s Day revelers. The free shuttle service will be available downtown on Saturday, March 16, from 9 a.m. until midnight and Sunday, March 17, from 10 a.m. until 6 p.m. Shuttles will run on two routes, making stops in the Loop, River North, Old Town, Lincoln Park and Wrigleyville neighborhoods at popular bars and restaurants, as well as near high-traffic “El” stops, Ogilvie Transportation Center and Union Station. Check the website for details.

Sponsor my head shaving. There’s still time to sponsor my head shaving for St. Baldrick’s Day. I am trying to raise $1,000. Any amount helps. Give $10 – $25 – $50 – $100. Anything you give will help me reach my goal. I am part of a team of folks called Donna’s Good Things. Donna was the daughter of my friend Sheila. Donna died of brain cancer at age 4. I want to keep her memory alive with donations in her name. Will you help? Sponsor me me!


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  • The hundreds of millions that Ventra will cost could have instead been used to buy a couple of hundred farecard vending machines placed around the city & suburbs & they still would have had a couple of hundred million left over.
    Then charge the idiots that pay cash $5 a ride & get rid of all swipe cards & just have smart cards.
    And I have changed my mind on strollers, don't ban them, but since they take up at least two seats where the wheelchairs go, charge them two fares for bringing the damn things on board.

    CTA, run by money wasting fools!

  • I'm also wondering about the $450 M to have Cubic take care of CTA's fare collection process for the next 10 or 12 years, but we don't know how much it costs to jingle quarters now.

    I thought that Tracy Swartz was crying a bit of wolf with the $3 headline, except that this is the first statement that someone buying a Ventra ticket would have to pay a minimum of $3 regardless if they used the 25 cent first transfer.

    Of course, the public hearing is meaningless (CTA sure buried the notice on its website) and the only clear answer is to get a Blink card from somewhere else.

    I also note that if CTA is charging 50 cents for essentially the one use chip, they better have some way to recycle all that electronic waste.

  • In reply to jack:

    Do you know how much each of the old CTA farecard machine cost?

  • In reply to ScooterLibbby:

    Would have no way of knowing.The only thing of record is the CTA Ordinance that it charged Skokie $306,000 for essentially obsolete equipment for the Oakton station. I assume that the charge was because Skokie was the grantee.

  • In reply to jack:

    So figure $150,000 a machine.
    $450 million would have bought 300 of them, scattered around in grocery stores, drug stores, police stations & other public facilities.
    But a bulk purchase would get a discount, so maybe $400 million for them.
    And no need for any new equipment as the current smart cards work well.

  • In reply to ScooterLibbby:

    Again, that's not clear. Among other things, both CTA and the Auditor General have said for about 10 years that the fare boxes are obsolete. There were the complaints that the Chicago Cards didn't hold up. Also, you don't know if Cubic still makes this kind of vending machines. All Cubic advertises on its site is that it sells solutions, not equipment.

    Essentially, you ignore the point that CTA is paying Cubic to get out of the mechanics of the fare collection and "minting fare currency" business. As I previously noted, the real comparison is the current cost of collecting fares, I assume including having money trucks and the like. Also, you, and certainly the Pace board ignore the point that even if there will be card vending locations all over the place* there will be no need to have a Ventra ticket if you have a Blink bank card, or, as Hilkevitch points out today, register a Ventra card.

    *CTA has, for again, about 10 years, advertised places where one could buy 10 packs of single fare cards or recharge a Chicago Card without the need for a refrigerator size vending machine.

  • In reply to ScooterLibbby:

    I'm not sure you can simply assume $150,000 per machine. That seems extraordinarily high, even for CTA standards, for what is essentially a large vending machine.

  • In reply to chris:

    Aside from that, there wasn't a point, since, as I pointed out above, there was little reason to put a full vending machine, when your local Currency Exchange sold CTA media and could reload Chicago Cards.

  • Having just renewed my Chicago Card supposedly through 2015, I'm surprised they'll pull the plug on it sooner.

    However, based on the Q&A section on the Ventra site, it appears to me that once I get the new card I will be able to continue simply loading cash on it, as I now do with the regular Chicago Card, skipping the optional credit or debit linkages unless I am convinced they are in my best interest with no pitfalls. That's basically what I wanted. If the new machines are more cooperative than the current ones, that'll be nice.

    I still think the name Ventra is dumb.

  • In reply to CCWriter:

    I suppose I will have to go look and see what happens to the transit benefit through work.

  • In reply to Cheryl:

    You are wondering if transit benefits from work can be put on the cards? Good point. I take it they haven't been under the Chicago Card?

  • I see the news articles where people showed up for the Ventra hearing, and, obviously said that the CTA did not give adequate notice and this will be shoved down their throats. Then Terry Peterson gave another promise he can't keep.

    I also see that CTA is now posting "minutes," but they basically say that public comment was taken, the item was put on the "omnibus"* and the omnibus passed unanimously. Unlike the Pace minutes, no deliberations indicated, but maybe none occur.

    So, expect this to pass on the omnibus unanimously as scheduled on Wednesday.

    *Didn't say if the omnibus was run by the Parmalee company.

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