RTA orders independent probe of CTA Ventra rollout

RTA Chairman John Gates Jr. is calling for an independent analysis of the problem-plagued rollout of the CTA’s new Ventra fare payment system.

“This has morphed into far more than a computer glitch,” Gates told the Tribune in its report. Gates directed the agency’s auditor, Michael Zumach, to report back to the RTA board at its December meeting.

CTA President Forrest Claypool probably laughed out loud when he heard this, as he pretty much ignores the RTA and its “oversight.” As evidenced by these recent stories:

CTA, other agencies reject bid to consolidate borrowing for transit projects, equipment
CTA Chairman Claypool Says Agency Not In Need Of Shake Up
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  • As I said, the joke of the day, and I came to that conclusion regardless of what Emanuel told Claypool to think.

  • It's a start. At least someone is calling for some kind of investigation. Maybe the media should encourage it and make sure the matter isn't allowed to drop..

    I would only quibble with his statement "this has morphed into far more than a computer glitch" in that it always was far more than that, it just took a while to become apparent.

  • In reply to CCWriter:

    1. The media was all over this way before the toothless RTA stepped in. I doubt that they even have cream pies in their arsenal. ;-)

    2. The article also mentioned that the RTA was still investigating Metra, including whether something else could pay for the settlement, without investigating the obvious sources, such as Metra's attorneys' malpractice. If anything comes up adverse to CTA, Emanuel's 5 members will block action.

    3. Nothing will happen until the media determines that CT Board members and the Executive Director are sitting there illegally, which they did for Metra, but won't do here. Apparently it is easier to figure that someone is double dipping or doesn't live in their district, as opposed to not having a business or transportation background.

  • Can someone please explain the rationale for the move to Ventra in the first place?

    As someone who used a Chicago Card since their introduction, I see no fundamental difference from the standpoint of user experience.

  • In reply to Roti2000:

    Kevin portrayed the CTA's unconvincing explanation a couple of days ago.

    Other transit authorities are investigating or trying to implement something like this, but none trying to go whole hog in an about 3 month period.

    It sounded good at the time, but now.........

  • And what will they find? The same thing they'll find when the conclude the "investigation" of the healthcare.gov website. An overpaid, and under-delivering contractor taking on a large software/hardware project using new technology with a fixed end date, while utilizing the wrong software development methodology.

    There will be tons of finger pointing, i.e. lack of "proper" requirements, project stakeholders not available for testing, known defects not addressed, blah, blah, blah.

    Look, it's quite simple, really. Large, complex hardware/software projects are extremely challenging, especially when using new technology, and having to integrate with existing systems and/or third-parties. They are doable, but not with a fixed end date, as you just don't know what do don't know. Target dates are nice, but they have to be adjusted based on real feedback. Unfortunately, you (typically) can't do this with a fixed cost, fixed date contract, so it spirals into a mess of finger pointing.

  • In reply to SpinyNorman:

    Great explanation. I wonder where we will be in a year. Seems likely the problems will be long forgotten.

  • In reply to WestLooper:

    Or it might be like the NABI bus fiasco; after 7 years the lawsuit is settled and the junk equipment is taken to the junk yard. You'll note that some of the press indicates that persons other than I are thinking about just kicking Cubic out. The other possibility is that at the rate we are going, there will be 365 new sources of complaints.

  • I'll laugh when Claypool is fired.

  • In reply to Cheryl:

    I'll laugh when the RTA board rules that cream pies will be a sanctioned penalty.

  • The Tribune editorial summarized all the problems that they know about, not to mention several others aired here but not there. Also, poor Rahm having to face Ventra questions overshadowing the rollout of the 95th station.

    Fouling up the Transit Benefits program seems the big one to me in that taking $100 at a swoop is much worse than taking $2.25.

  • In reply to jack:

    Thanks for that. I stopped subscribing to the Tribune a while ago. (You don't want to get me started on why.)

  • In reply to jack:

    I agree Jack. The only thing is the transit benefits are only used by 52,000 riders.

  • I'm surprised at the low number of people who use the transit benefit. When it works, it's a really boon.

  • I don't know if it is unintentional and they are going to fix it, but NBC5 News has posted the raw footage of an unedited interview with Forrest Claypool and Ron Denard (CFO of CTA) on their web site:
    Much enlightenment.

    Among other things, Claypool claims that he called Cubic and Cubic told him that the most negative any card has ever gone is -$17.50. Denard explains that when a card goes negative, Cubic must pay the CTA and it becomes Cubic's problem to get reimbursed. Claypool also mentions cards becoming "hotlisted" when they go negative which should stop them from working.

    At the end of the interview is the raw footage of when reporter Phil Rogers bought his Ventra Card and used it 8 times with only $5 on it. While they were filming, about 4 customers came through whose Ventra Cards wouldn't work. He let one of the customers through on his card.

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