The CTA insists its star-crossed Ventra fare system is absolutely, positively getting better. And agency President Forrest Claypool says the numbers prove it.
“Part of our job is to fix this and we take responsibility for fixing it, and we intend to,” Claypool told the RTA Finance Committee Wednesday even as he effectively declared that operations on the CTA’s rail side were nearing normalcy.
“The turnstile delays that created confusion, the double-tapping and delays, are gone,” he said.
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Still, Ventra is not at the point where the CTA or its riders have reached anything near a comfort zone. The software upgrades that have helped to correct problems at rail stations are still being installed on buses.
Over the last week, almost comical examples were cited of riders opening turnstile by waving their federal ID’s at Ventra readers. An agency spokesman said that problem had been fixed, but Claypool stopped short when he was asked when the system will be declared fully functional.
“I wish I could tell you for sure,” he told the RTA. “We’re going to be patient here. The main thing is to get it right.”
Claypool cited the $100 million investment in Ventra and the fact that the vendor, Cubic, isn’t being paid as a prime motivator for the company to correct its issues on the CTA system.
“The contract was structured so that all of the risk was on the contractor, so if there are free rides due to malfunctions, those are on Cubic’s dime,” he said. “They have to use all of their international expertise and their top people to fix this.”
Still, Claypool conceded there is “much more work still to be done.”
The CTA said Wednesday that on the rail side, 99.8 percent of all Ventra transactions are processed within 2.5 seconds or less, with an average speed of 0.6 seconds. Overall, the agency says 66 percent of all CTA rides are now paid via Ventra. There are now more than one million Ventra accounts.