Ventra Equipment Issues Cost CTA $1.2 M in Free Rides

About 909,000 bus rides and 21,000 rail rides were provided

Ventra's recent fare-equipment issues cost the Chicago Transit Authority $1.2 million in free rides, according to city transit officials.

The CTA said Monday it plans to seek reimbursement from Ventra vendor, Cubic Transportation Systems Inc., to cover the 930,061 rides given to customers from October through Dec. 19.

About 909,000 bus rides and 21,000 rail rides were provided, according to the CTA, "because Ventra fare readers were not functioning correctly." Those numbers make up about half of an average weekday ridership on the CTA.

The fare system introduced this year experienced a bumpy rollout plagued with reports of poor customer service, activation issues, card-reading problems and overcharged cards. Mayor Rahm Emanuel expressed his frustration over the system, and a CTA rider even created a free app called "Ventra Fails."

Still CTA officials say the system is getting better.

"Since the CTA established new performance criteria for Cubic, Ventra performance has improved significantly and the number of free rides has dropped dramatically," the transit authority said in a statement. "The CTA continues to monitor Ventra’s performance closely."

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