Monday, November 18, 2013

Just The Beginning Of The Ventra Nightmare?

Is the CTA's Ventra program the biggest corporate flub since the introduction of New Coke?

Do you find it funny when they use the word BETTER?
In the '80's, Coke changed their formula and created New Coke.  Their loyal customers HATED it!  This became a horrible marketing move.  Regardless, Coca-Cola dealt with, quickly fixed and fully recovered from this disaster.  In the end, New Coke was NOT BETTER and died a slow death.

Ventra is NOT BETTER!

They seem to be making more mistakes, affecting dependent customers and ignoring their best interest.

If you are a CTA rider, you may already know about all of this, but EVERYONE else, (if you drive a car, ride a bike, use any form of transportation), Ventra has plans for you too.

Currently, the CTA uses the well liked and reliable Chicago Card.  Results from a study regarding the possibility of upgrading to a newer technology were printed in the Chicago Tribune;
A study conducted by the RTA in 2005 estimated it could cost as much as $170 million to implement a universal fare card in Chicago. The price tag was so high that legislators scrapped the idea... 
Classic fare collecting on the CTA.
The headline for that article said;
Survey results at odds with state law on adding new fare card system
The sub-heading under that said;
Most riders say they're satisfied with transit system, transferring
That alone, points out that something like Ventra was not going to be popular by the public.  However, just to be very clear, let's dive into the first three paragraphs of that article;
Transportation experts have long pushed for a fare system that would enable mass-transit users to transfer seamlessly between the CTA, Metra and Pace, but customers don't appear to be clamoring for the concept.
That's the message from a comprehensive survey of transit users in the Chicago area. An overwhelming number of riders say they are satisfied with how the system works now — results that call into question spending hundreds of millions of dollars to develop a "universal" fare card linking the transit agencies. 
A state law passed by the General Assembly and signed last year by Gov. Pat Quinn requires just that, but doesn't provide any state money to pay for it.
A law?  Yes.  Introduced by Sen. Karen McConnaughay, passed by the Illinois General Assembly, and then signed into law by Governor Pat Quinn;
By January 1, 2015, the Authority must develop and implement a regional fare payment system. The regional fare payment system must use and conform with established information security industry standards and requirements of the financial industry. The system must allow consumers to use contactless credit cards, debit cards, and prepaid cards to pay for all fixed‑route public transportation services. Beginning in 2012 and each year thereafter until 2015, the Authority must submit an annual report to the Governor and General Assembly describing the progress of the Authority and each of the Service Boards in implementing the regional fare payment system. The Authority must adopt rules to implement the requirements set forth in this Section.
(Source: P.A. 97‑85, eff. 7‑7‑11.) (70 ILCS 3615/2.05) (from Ch. 111 2/3, par. 702.05)

Sooooo, this state law is why the CTA had to switch to a new technology.  However, as pointed out in that Trib article, the RTA's motives to increase revenue, may not have had the best interest when it came to their current customers.
"Efforts to integrate fares are targeted more toward building ridership than serving existing riders," Peter Skosey, a transportation expert at the Metropolitan Planning Council said. "The visitors to the city — these are important constituents to serve too."
A bad card trick.
According to the Chicago Sun-Times, 21st Ward Alderman; Howard Brookins, questioned why lawmakers required the CTA, Metra and Pace to move to a “regional fare payment system.”   Could Ventra be dumped and Chicago Card remain in use;
CTA spokesman Brian Steele said the chip used in the CTA’s Chicago Card is no longer being produced and its manufacturer — Fujitsu — even closed its chip-production factory.
I can only conclude, that Chicago Card days are numbered, Quinn's law won't be repealed, and a new vendor won't replace Ventra.  This should make EVERYONE very concerned.    

Perhaps this video will clear things up.  Phil Silver, director of strategic initiatives for Cubic Transportation Systems (aka the company behind Ventra), explains their ambitious plans with their "one account" for ALL kinds of transportation, i.e.; public transit, parking, car and bike sharing programs, and even tollways.

Cubic has two main businesses — one that provides military training and services and a second that makes fare gates and payment systems for some of the world’s largest public transit agencies, including London, Chicago, New York, Sydney and San Francisco. -UT-San Diego 
Wait here until...
Ventra customers have been complaining about all-sorts of issues, including, but not limited to; summer roll-out was delayed until the fall, initial problems mailing out new cards, website issues, extremely poor customer service, extended wait times and multiple disconnections, overcharges, account balances negative on unlimited 30-day passes, longer wait times for cards to process rides after tapping reader, cards must be removed from wallets/purses to avoid other smart cards from being charged, along with accidental charges when departing and passing scanner during exit, commuter benefits site exposing info of employees to wrong companies, plus a little rush-hour outage last week, resulting in 15k free rides.

This is not BETTER!

With the way things are going, EVERYONE will have to sell the shirt off their backs just to be able to ride the train...

walk of shame (she was grinning ear to ear tho)
Not often on the CTA, do you get to see an attractive naked woman, albeit perhaps mentally unstable, but she could have been the Goddess of the Train, as she claimed.

Just wait until New Year's Eve for the real fun, when everyone gets a ride for a penny!  (I am talking about only riding the train!)

Ventra columns:
Dump Ventra in 2014!
Ventra, No Change! "Stop. Stop. Go."
Ventra, On The Wrong Track!
Just The Beginning Of The Ventra Nightmare?
Follow The $$$ To Answer "Why Ventra?"
How Ventra Stopped Chicago From Working!
Ventra Makes The ObamaCare Registration Look Smooth!
CTA, A Well Run Company, Like A Runaway Train!
Is The CTA Just Messing With Me?

Tony Lossano, Broadcast Producer (TV & Radio, Chicago), amateur bicyclist, a fantastic dog walker, and has never been married to Alyssa Milano.

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