Photo: "Quick" Ventra claim disputed by graffiti artist

There’s a lot of pent-up anger around town toward the CTA Ventra card, as this photo attests.

Ventra bullshit

Many CTA passengers are reporting long waits at the farebox as their Ventra card is “Processing…” The card that was supposed to speed boarding for instead has customers fuming – both those waiting for their card to process and those in queue behind them.

Even CTA President Forrest Claypool is mad enough to refuse payment on the $454 million contract with Cubic Transportation Systems – the Ventra maker – until fareboxes process transactions in 2.5 seconds or less 99 percent of the time, among other demands.

Meanwhile, a Twitter follower let me know about a new Ventra Fails app that “allows you to make a record of the place and time where your Ventra card failed, as well as when it happened. If your fail goes through, it will come up on the map the next time you open Ventra Fails.”

Get more app details at RedEye.
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  • Not sure what the app proves. If the reader is out on bus 1830, Ventra might fail at one place and then a mile further north 10 minutes later.

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    I think the word "artist" is being used a little loosely here.

  • In reply to Al Taggart:

    I had commented elsewhere that the "art" wasn't that creative.

  • In reply to jack:

    Maybe not, but as an example of pushback against lies and incompetence, it's dead on target.

    Wouldn't mind seeing a more colorfully decorated version, though.

  • I was talking to a bus driver tonight who estimates the readers on the buses fail about 80% of the time. I know I've gotten to the point where I give it 3 tries and if it doesn't work, I just give up and go sit down. I haven't had a driver try to throw me off yet.

  • At what point does the law of diminishing returns go into effect? How much revenue is CTA losing because of faulty Ventra scanners? How does that compare to the amount they are projected to save by farming out fare collection to Ventra/Cubic?

  • The article on Frosty saying that CTA was not paying Cubic said uncollected fares in 5% of transactions. I noted previously on the CTA Tattler how that could be determined using the gps on buses and mechanical counters on turnstiles.

    If you believe Claypool's statement that "we will quantify it and will work with our lawyers," Cubic is going to have to make it up. But it might be like how the NABI lawsuit got settled--NABI distribution, which then was taken over by New Flyer, agreed to pay for most of that with parts, not cash.

    I previously did some math vs. the CTA Budget Report indicating that it might have been around $1.25 million for the first month. My methodology might have been flawed, but it is up to CTA's beancounters and lawyers to come to a definitive amount.

    On the other hand, one has to figure out how many riders have been double billed (or had their transit benefits disappear) and whether Cubic is going to keep its word to credit their accounts or CTA is just going to keep the unclaimed funds, like Gapers Block reported for London.

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    "until fareboxes process transactions in 2.5 seconds or less 99 percent of the time"

    This performance metric absolutely kills me. The Chicago card processes my transaction in maybe a half second.

  • In reply to Hemmerly:

    Exactly. They replaced a magnetic strip (Chicago.Plus Card) with a useless less sensitive 'microchip' (Ventra). They did this because the goal wasn't to provide us with a transit card but to provide us with a payday loan card that kinda sorta also did transit. The disasterous results were totally predictable.

  • In reply to leoklein:

    No, the Chicago Card Plus is a smart card with a chip inside. But it's a stored value chip, that retains the info on the chip.
    Ventra just has a serial number & contacts a server to see if there's sufficient fare to allow you on board the bus or train.

  • In reply to ScooterLibbby:

    So you're saying they connect in the same way? Each has a magnetic strip? Mechanically they communicate in the same way. It's just that the 'value' is stored on the one and not on the other?

  • In reply to leoklein:

    CC+ doesn't have a magstripe, you just touch it to the farebox! Only standard farecards of various types have a magstripe.
    The amount of money on a CC+ Card is stored on the chip in the card. When you touch it to the farebox, the box deducts your fare.
    I believe the box also has a list of stolen cards or other invalid cards in its computer & checks to see if yours is on the list. The farebox doesn't contact a central server, but every day, when the bus returns to the garage, all fare info is downloaded to the central server.

    Ventra only has a serial number & an expiration date on its chip. It must contact the central server to verify every transaction as the server has all the fares stored there. That makes verification of the validity of cards updated constantly, instead of once a day, but require a cellular radio connection that's always working.

  • In reply to ScooterLibbby:

    You've got CC and CC+ reversed.

    Think about it: To add money to a CC, you have to bring it to a machine and tap it against the touchpad when you are done adding money. In contrast, the CTA "magically" adds money from a remote location to a CC+, you don't have to do a thing with the card and the money/pass appears.

    The CC has the balance stored on the chips memory. The CC+ just has a serial number and expiration. As long as the serial number is not on the invalid list and the expiration date has not passed, the CC+ is accepted.

  • In reply to ScooterLibbby:

    "Current CTA passes use magnets, just like traditional bank cards. But CTA partner Cubic Transportation Systems will no longer make the cards, rendering existing magnetic scanners obsolete. Instead, Ventra scanners deploying on the CTA this year use radio waves to read microchips in plastic and disposable paper cards. "

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    In reply to Hemmerly:

    I came here to post the same thing. In what world is 2.5 seconds acceptable? It's slower than the Chicago Card Plus, it's slower than the mag-stripe cards, it's slower than tokens. What purpose does automation serve when it actually makes things slower?

    This 2.5 seconds target is a loud and clear signal that these things are being designed and thought through by people who rarely or never actually rely on transit. Any regular CTA rider could tell you that 2.5 seconds is nuts.

  • In reply to Eli Naeher:

    Obviously, the standard is "processing...approved" at the gas pump or grocery counter for a similar debit/credit card transaction.

    Scooter, in effect, brought up the issue whether a server based solution is acceptable on transit. But as a practical matter, what standard can be imposed where a card has to be read, a radio message has to be sent to the server to verify it and charge the account, and another radio signal has to be sent to send the "go message?" Any IT folk out there?

  • Is there a massive Ventra outage in progress this afternoon? Lots of tweets coming from train riders that all Ventra readers at their stations are down.


    ...and many more

  • People are reporting that Ventra readers on Green, Blue, and Red lines are all out of service at 'L' stations around the city on twitter.

  • The sign should say; "Quick is Here. Unfortunately, You're Still Stuck at the Turnstile".

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