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Emanuel Has ‘Full Confidence’ In Claypool, Despite Ventra Problems

Forrest Claypool

CTA President Forrest Claypool (Credit: CBS)

John Cody John Cody
John Cody is a veteran reporter for Newsradio 780.
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CHICAGO (CBS) – Mayor Rahm Emanuel gave a vote of confidence to CTA President Forrest Claypool on Tuesday, despite the laundry list of problems that have plagued the rollout of the new Ventra fare system.

WBBM Newsradio’s John Cody reports bus drivers have said they’re seeing fewer problems with Ventra fare cards, and the mayor said he’s not holding Claypool responsible for the foul-ups with the switchover to Ventra. He blames Cubic Transportation Systems, the vendor running the Ventra program.

“Cubic is responsible for delivering a better service, and Forrest … always will have my – and does have my – full confidence,” he said.

Emanuel said Claypool successfully oversaw the rebuilding the Dan Ryan Branch of the Red Line – on time and on budget – and has been making sure Cubic addresses the problems with Ventra before making the full switchover from old fare cards.

“He just pulled off a very important effort in revitalizing the Red Line South, and managed that very well. He’s holding Cubic’s feet to the fire, that they have to deliver a system

Last month, Claypool halted all deadlines for switching over from the CTA’s magnetic stripe cards, Chicago Cards, and Chicago Plus Cards, until Cubic fixes a bevy of problems with Ventra. He also halted all payments to Cubic until the problems are resolved.

“Cubic will not get paid until it works for the customers of the city of Chicago, and they know that,” Emanuel said.

Existing transit cards will continue to be accepted until wait times on Ventra’s hot line are under five minutes, and until 99 percent of fare card machines and readers are working, and 99 percent of readers register riders’ fares within 2.5 seconds.

Other problems have included riders with a negative balance on their Ventra cards being allowed to pass through train turnstiles and bus fare readers; some federal employees improperly given free rides; riders’ debit cards and credit cards being charged for fares when tapping their Ventra card from their wallet; and riders being double- or triple-charged for a single ride.

The Regional Transportation Authority also has launched a probe of Ventra, to get to the bottom of the fare system snafus.