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CTA reverses course on Ventra, allows Chicago Card reloads

October 09, 2013|By Tracy Swartz, @tracyswartz | RedEye

The CTA will allow Chicago Card riders to add money to their cards and will sell disposable cards in rail stations for "several weeks," reversing a Monday deadline that ceased those operations, CTA president Forrest Claypool said Wednesday.

The CTA is also sending 110,000 transition e-mails to Chicago Card and Chicago Card Plus users, some of whom said they didn't receive these e-mails and said they had difficulty transitioning to Ventra, CTA's new fare payment system.

The CTA is also directing Cubic, the Ventra contractor, to triple the number of customer service agents at its call center to nearly 300 workers. Some riders have complained of long call waits and disconnections.

This customer service addition may take "several weeks," which is why the CTA reversed course on Monday's transition deadline, Claypool said.

The Ventra customer service number received more than 20,000 calls on Monday, the deadline for Chicago Card users to add money to their cards and for sales of disposable CTA cards to cease at rail stations. It was the first Ventra transition deadline.

In a statement, the CTA said, "In light of Ventra customer service issues this week, the CTA is taking a series of corrective steps. These issues are not with system functionality, but with customer-service, particularly to the 17 percent of customers using Chicago Card and Chicago Card Plus."

About 40 percent of CTA riders use Ventra, the CTA said. The agency said it is still on track for Ventra to replace all other transit cards on Dec. 15.

The Monday deadline did not affect Chicago Card Plus users, whose cards will autoload through Nov. 14, the last day Chicago Cards can be used. The CTA said it has resent usernames and temporary passwords to Chicago Card Plus users who have received but not yet activated their cards.

Some CTA riders have experienced a variety of Ventra glitches from not receiving their cards to negative balances to long call center waits.

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