CTA Suspends Ventra Deadlines Indefinitely

Two aldermen on Monday called for Chicago City Council hearings on the Ventra rollout

The Chicago Transit Authority's legacy fare-payment system, the Chicago Card, will work past the original Nov. 15 deadline, the agency's president, Forrest Claypool, said Tuesday.

The new system, Ventra, has had a bumpy rollout plagued with reports of poor customer service, activation issues, card-reading problems and overcharged cards. Claypool said that more than 50 percent of riders have transitioned to Ventra.

"Although hundreds of thousands of riders use the system smoothly each day, as we're all aware, there are a number of things that just aren't going the way they should be... or the way they want them to," Claypool told the City Club of Chicago at Maggiano's Little Italy, at 516 N. Clark St. "In short, our vendor hasn't fully met our expectations yet, or those of our customers."

The CTA president said he's instructed the developer of Ventra, Cubic Transportation Systems, to take further steps to alleviate customer service issues. The vendor last month was ordered to increase the number of customer service representatives it had available after users complained of long hold times. The CTA at that time also abruptly extended use of the magnetic-stripe fare cards.

With Tuesday's announcement, customers can continue to reload funds onto Chicago Cards and purchase the magnetic-stripe cards until further notice.

Overall, CTA officials maintain the Ventra system is performing "well," with more than 25 million rides in just seven weeks.

Still, two aldermen on Monday called for Chicago City Council hearings on the Ventra rollout. Frustrated with the number of complaints he'd received, Ald. Bob Fioretti (2nd) labeled the rollout a "debacle."

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