Ventra fails have a new app

November 11, 2013|By Tracy Swartz, @tracyswartz | RedEye

Fed up with the multiple taps it took for his Ventra card to work, Michael Askew turned his problematic taps into a problem app.

Askew, 35, this month created an app for iPhones called “Ventra Fails.” CTA riders can record when and where their Ventra cards fail.

The CTA announced last week it is slowing its transition to Ventra, a new fare payment system, while system operator Cubic works out glitches that have ranged from long customer service waits to delayed mailings of cards to slow processing time once a Ventra card has been tapped.

Askew, a Northeastern marketing student, said he’s been using his Ventra U-Pass for about a month and has found that sometimes it has taken the card multiple taps to board a bus or train. The Edgewater resident said he’s also been waiting a while for a Ventra card to be mailed to him to replace the Chicago Card he also carries.

He wanted to create a system to record these problems, much like the 311 system the city has developed for reporting potholes.

“Maybe the voices of hundreds could come together in a way,” Askew said. “It's not like you just have to grin and bear it.”

He said 100 people have downloaded the free app, the only of its kind in the iTunes store, and more than 25 complaints have been logged.

Askew, who also works as a senior interactive developer at 88 Brand Partners, a Loop advertising firm, said it took him about 10 days to create this app. He plans on updating the app soon and would like to expand it to other smartphones besides iPhones.

Meanwhile, Friday was supposed to be the deadline for Chicago Card users to transition to Ventra but that was jettisoned last week when the CTA announced it is allowing all fare card holders to use their current cards indefinitely while Ventra glitches are worked out.

As of late last week, Ventra was used to pay for 60 percent of all CTA rides, the agency said.

Celebrate X-Mass Transit

“EL Stories: Holiday Train,” a play that incorporates real-life CTA stories, will run Saturdays at 11 p.m., Nov. 30 to Jan. 11 at the Greenhouse Theater Center, 2257 N. Lincoln Ave. Tickets are $20. Go to waltzingmechanics.org for more information.

Stationary

A weekly dispatch from a CTA station of note

This week: Jarvis Red Line

It’s been a year since this Rogers Park station was closed for six weeks as part of a North Side Red Line project to beautify and repair seven stations. The CTA put in new windows, doors and lights on the stationhouse and made various improvements to the adjacent viaduct. But station ridership has yet to rebound after the closure, according to data through July.

Jarvis ridership was down 6.4 percent to nearly 292,000 riders from January through July compared to the same period in 2012. Weekday ridership was down 16.8 percent in July to 1,594 riders. Systemwide, CTA rail ridership is down 1.5 percent this year. Perhaps part of the reason of the Jarvis decline is the persistence of slow zones on the North Side of the Red Line. Nearly 14 percent of that section of the Red Line is plagued by slow zones, including near Jarvis.

Next up: Noyes Purple Line.

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