CTA doubles hiring of vets; Cubic continues to meet Ventra performance standards

Here are two CTA news items you may have missed last week.

CTA doubles hiring of military veterans: The Chicago Transit Authority more than doubled the number of U.S. military veterans hired by the agency in 2013. Last year, the CTA hired 194 military veterans, bringing the total number of veterans working for the agency to 353. Veterans have joined the CTA in a wide variety of positions, from bus operators and flagmen to mechanics and customer-service assistants. Seventeen now serve in manager or coordinator positions.

Efforts to increase veteran’s hiring began in May 2012, according to a news release. That’s when CTA President Forrest Claypool signed the CTA’s first-ever executive order creating a veterans hiring preference. The order set a CTA goal to attract at least a 20 percent pool of veterans during the application process for positions, including drivers, mechanics, engineers, managers and other workers.

Cubic continues to meet Ventra performance standards: The announced late last week that Cubic Transportation Systems, which is responsible for rolling out the Ventra card fare payment system, that continues to meet the performance standards set by the transit agency. Those requirements included lowering average call wait times to Ventra customer service to five minutes or less to speak to an operator; all Ventra reader taps process in 2.5 seconds or less, 99 percent of the time; and vending machines and card readers on buses and at rail stations have a 99 percent availability or “uptime.”

For the week of Jan. 12 through Jan. 18, Ventra comprised 77 percent of total fares. The CTA earlier this month indicated that by next month it would continue with its stalled full rollout of the Ventra payment system. That means that magnetic stripe cards and Chicago Card Plus cards would start to be phased out.

So stay tuned next month for that announcement


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  • So I had to call [redacted] Ventra again. This time I keep getting that message that says it's almost time for something--it shows up really fast on the reader, I never get it read. To buy a new pass? To put money in my account? Whichever it is, I bought a 30 day pass 1/17, so whatever it is trying to tell me, it's wrong. I ended up in a screaming fit at the [redacted] guy pretending he knew something about customer service. He told me my problem isn't serious and anyway, it can't be fixed. Seriously, that's what he said. And he was offended when I told him to use Ms. Mylastname when speaking to me, as we weren't friends.

    I hope the company goes out of business soon.

  • In reply to Cheryl:

    I saw that Cubic is even having problems in San Diego, where their HQ is.
    I still think they will sell or spinoff the fare collection division by the end of this year.
    It's turned into a PR nightmare for them!

  • I discovered yet another flaw with Ventra last week. I was waiting for a Purple line train at LaSalle/Van Buren that never arrived. Somehow through word of mouth among the riders waiting on the platform, we heard that a purple line train was having difficulties with a door at Adams/Wabash, and all inner loop trains were stopped. After 10 to 15 minutes, we noticed that the Purple line trains were being rerouted to the outer track, so a number of us exited the inner platform, and walked over to the outer platform.

    However, when we attempted to scan our Ventra cards, they were all rejected. The agent said that we needed to check the account. We informed her that the cards were good, and that they had just been used at the inner platform. "Oh", she said, "in that case I'll have to scan you through, as they won't work."

    Seriously, WTF. The old Chicago Cards (w/ monthly pass) could be swiped without problems on different sides of the station. I could understand not allowing the cards to used multiple times on the same side of the station, but not on *different* stations. The stupid Ventra system is treating the station as a single entry point, preventing riders from changing sides for whatever reason. Idiocy.

  • In reply to SpinyNorman:

    Maybe the more relevant question is why somebody in the Control Center didn't inform the CA that the trains were being rerouted and to open the turnstile?

  • OK, I've thought of a way to pose the question that could possibly bring an answer.

    When were the Ventra performance standards created by the CTA? Were they already in existence at the time the rollout began?

  • cc: You were previously told that you could FOIA that and you said you didn't need to. Since you know that Claypool isn't going to respond here, why did you ask again?

  • In reply to jack:

    I'm trying to point out that there are questions a journalist could ask that would reveal what we want to know, whether in the answers or in the evasion. I'm not a journalist, though. I'm a reader. Even if I were a journalist, you aren't my editor, are you?

  • In reply to CCWriter:

    Claypool isn't going to answer. Besides that, the point is that contracts have specifications, and Claypool may not legally withhold payments putting CTA in breach of the contract. The combination of the NABI fiasco and all the talk about Ricketts being bound by preexisting contracts with the rooftop owners [coming up in the Cubs blogs] should make that abundantly clear to you, if you don't want to bother to find out what the contract says yourself, which you have the right to do.

  • We'll see. Meanwhile, I don't recall any paycheck being promised for executing assignments you seem to want to give me. I am just a fellow reader and commenter. Your predictions and observations are what they are and I don't necessarily dispute them. I've already made it clear why I ask my questions, and it's not because I need you tell me to answer them myself.

  • In reply to CCWriter:

    That was suppposed to be attached as a reply to Jack.

  • In reply to CCWriter:

    I'm not assuming that you expect me to answer your question, nor do anything for me. However, I assumed the last time and now that you really aren't interested in an answer to a question you repeatedly pose.*

    As far as journalists, they seem satisfied with Claypool's statement that CTA won't pay until Cubic meets this standard, and for that matter, Cubic isn't contesting it it.** Also, journalists seem satisfied with CTA feeding them Cubic's statistics, as opposed to independently audited numbers. So, if you have an interest beyond that, you'll have to do your own legwork.

    *Similarly, for several subsequent reasons, I don't expect Claypool to answer my original question about service coordination that he ducked in July 2011, nor to say anything other than what Emanuel tells him to say.

    ** As opposed to NABI, which went directly to court when CTA refused to make the last payment.

  • "all Ventra reader taps process in 2.5 seconds or less, 99 percent of the time."

    I wonder how many Ventra cards are rejected with the 1st tap only to be accepted on the second or third tap.

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