Video from a Ventra rider shows a bus driver requiring riders to pay despite an issue with the bus' Ventra Card reader.
The Chicago Transit Authority and several riders reported Ventra Card reader issues during the rush hour commute Friday, but one rider said he was forced to wait in the cold while a bus driver demanded payment from riders, despite the outage.
In the video above, Ken Chin said a CTA bus driver initially requested money from riders whose cards were not working.
Chin said some riders paid the fare to avoid being stuck in the cold. Other riders are seen arguing with the driver, asking her to let them on without payment.
CTA officials said, while the driver did not “kick anyone off of the bus,” charging riders is not part of the agency’s protocol during outages.
“The operator should have let the customers on the bus without requesting a fare since there was an obvious problem with the Ventra reader,” said CTA spokesperson Lambrini Lukidis. “Even if there’s a problem with the Ventra reader, if someone has cash or a magnetic strip, the drivers are instructed to just wave people through. In that case, people should not have had to wait in line in the cold.”
The CTA admitted they experienced a problem with card readers Friday on “a handful of buses for part of the evening.”
The issue was fixed by Friday night and no issues were reported Saturday.
“The turnstile delays that created confusion, the double-tapping and delays, are gone,” said agency President Forrest Claypool.
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.”