News pickup: CTA Ventra transition to resume soon

To all you riders clinging cautiously to your Chicago Cards and magnetic stripe transit cards – get ready for Ventra.

New CTA Ventra readerThe CTA is about to resume its transition to exclusive use of the Ventra card to pay for train and bus rides.

We should know by the end of March how the new transition should go, according to a Tribune column today.

The transition to Ventra-only fare payments will probably resume where it left off:

First, riders will no longer be able to reload value onto the old fare cards, then the sale of magnetic stripe cards will be halted, and lastly, none of the old-style cards will be accepted on buses or trains, the CTA said. A deadline for transferring remaining value from the old cards to Ventra cards will also be set.

“Some final details are being worked out on setting up informational events and the mail-in program so customers can transfer balances from their old cards to Ventra, but we’re pretty sure an announcement will be made by month’s end,” CTA spokesman Brian Steele said Friday.

While the Ventra card now is being used to pay for 81 percent of all rides, Ventra-maker Cubic is not meeting its contractual goal of processing Ventra taps on buses in less than half a second. The average bus tap time last week was 0.77 seconds. The rail tap times are averaging just under a half second.

Bottom line: I recommend you start getting on board now with Ventra if you’ve been holding out. If you need help, you can get it through their customer service center before the volume of calls increases when the transition really begins.
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  • Frankly, I can't wait for this to finish. For better or worse, we're stuck with the new card.

    Hopefully we can move on to discuss more important issues. For example, are there any published metrics on the so-called "de-crowding" plan? I had to take the Blue line in from the Chicago Ave station last Friday, and I hate to wait for 3 trains to go by before I could board. It looked like the frikin' Tokyo subway. Decrowding my a**.

  • So let's get this straight... CTA says Ventra needs to meet a number of performance metrics before the rollout will continue, one of which is an average processing time of <=0.5 seconds.

    "The average bus tap time last week was 0.77 seconds. The rail tap times are averaging just under a half second"

    Ventra falls short of at least one of these metrics (arguably the most important one) and they still push forward. What a joke!

  • In reply to duping:

    Oh my god, you're right. The bus tap times are taking .27 seconds longer than the Ventra performance metrics CTA established. What ever will we do??

    Actually, if I recall, Forrest Claypool laid out the performance metric for tap times as 2.5 seconds, not .5 seconds (Hilkevitch subsequently reported that the contract stipulates .5 seconds). So Cubic/Ventra is meeting Claypool's standard, though I know he is on the record as saying CTA will hold Cubic/Ventra accountable to the .5 stipulation.

    That said, I agree with Spiny Norman about Ventra - it isn't going anywhere, so stop trying to fight it. It's probably the most modern fare payment system in the country, and even with the early issues, a bunch of other cities are moving to the open-fare payment standard. And it is far more easy to tap a card than dip the flimsy paper striped cards, allowing customers to more quickly board trains and buses.

  • In reply to ambrosewilde:

    If it was allowing customers to more quickly board trains and buses, that would be different. If you have to stand there for even 5 seconds, waiting for the thing to read your tap, that's not achieving even that modest goal.

  • Aren't there still some problems people are having (like mysterious removal of pass payment and resulting disablement of cards) that haven't even been addressed in the performance metrics?

    Of course this affected people who were already committed to the Ventra card, so they were not holding out as an incentive for the new system to get its act together.

  • In reply to CCWriter:

    Are you still having issues with the auto-reload on the monthly pass? I had a problem with the initial reload, but it has worked fine ever since.

  • In reply to SpinyNorman:

    Not I. But I remember some other people mentioning problems with it (the monthly pass suddenly becoming invalid mid-month) and I don't want it to be swept under the rug if it's still an issue.

  • I've been rocking the Ventra card for over 6 months now. The first month or two were rough with tap times, but it's been just as good as the Chicago Card for many months now (at least for me). You tap the top instead of the front, that's the only difference.

    I'm ready for the transition just so I stop seeing stories on it, Ventra changing over is so 2013, lol.

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