WBEZ | bus http://www.wbez.org/tags/bus Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Final phase of Ventra rollout suspended, developer apologizes http://www.wbez.org/news/final-phase-ventra-rollout-suspended-developer-apologizes-109094 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/Ventra.jpg" alt="" /><p><p dir="ltr">Chicago commuters will be able to hold on to those old Chicago Cards and magnetic strip cards for a little while longer. Chicago Transit Authority officials announced the the final phase of the new <a href="http://ventrachicago.com/">Ventra </a>system&rsquo;s rollout will be suspended until a few of its problems are fixed. Chicago Cards and Chicago Card Plus were supposed to be phased out by November 15.</p><p dir="ltr">CTA President Forrest Claypool also said the agency won&rsquo;t pay the developer, Cubic Transportation Systems, any of the $454 million, 12-year contract, until the company meets three criterion: customer service wait times must be five minutes or less, processing times for the tap-and-go function of a Ventra card must be under two and a half seconds--99 percent of the time--and all readers and vending machines must be operational 99 percent of the time.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;The bottom line is that too many of our customers are confused and frustrated and that&rsquo;s our fault,&rdquo; Claypool told members of the City Club at a luncheon Tuesday.</p><p dir="ltr">Cubic&rsquo;s head of North American operations, Richard Wunderle, was on hand to answer some questions as well.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;This transition period wasn&rsquo;t our shining light, and for that I want to apologize to the riders of CTA,&rdquo; said Wunderle. &ldquo;It wasn&rsquo;t our best effort but it will get better, so I apologize for that.&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr">Cubic isn&rsquo;t new to the public transit game: They&rsquo;ve got 400 fare-collection projects in operation across the world, including systems in Sydney, London and Washington, D.C. But the Ventra system marks the first time the company&rsquo;s tackled an open-fare, contactless card system; and officials say it&rsquo;s the first of its kind in North America.</p><p dir="ltr">Wunderle said Cubic engineers are already at work on a number of fixes to get things up to speed.</p><p dir="ltr">One issue that&rsquo;s drawn many complaints from CTA riders is being charged for multiple taps of their Ventra card at the turnstile. Officials say customers would tap their card, and after not immediately seeing a green &ldquo;Go&rdquo; signal, they&rsquo;d tap multiple times or move to a different lane. As of Tuesday, Cubic said they added a new &ldquo;processing&rdquo; screen to show riders the system is working before it lets them through. Engineers will also be upgrading the Ventra software over the weekend to try and bring processing times down on card readers to two-and-a-half seconds or less. CTA officials said that&rsquo;s happening 95 percent of the time--but the other 5 percent of the time, processing times varied from three to 10 seconds, sometimes more.</p><p dir="ltr">Claypool said the issue that&rsquo;s upset him the most is the long wait times for callers trying to reach a customer service agent, calling it a &ldquo;self-inflicted wound.&rdquo; The CTA chief said on one day last month, the center was overwhelmed with 20,000 calls. Some customers couldn&rsquo;t get through to an agent at all, while others waited, and waited - in some cases, for more than 30 minutes. Cubic has hired more customer service agents since then, and plans to expand further.</p><p dir="ltr">No timeline has been set for when the Ventra rollout will continue. Wunderle said he can&rsquo;t really give a &ldquo;best guess&rdquo; how long it will take the company to address the CTA&rsquo;s three benchmarks, only estimating &ldquo;weeks&rdquo; when pressed by a reporter.</p><p dir="ltr">Other interesting Ventra facts:</p><ul><li dir="ltr"><p dir="ltr">The entire Ventra contract lasts 12 years: The two years allotted for engineering the system are almost up. The next 10 years of the contract will be for the service.</p></li><li dir="ltr"><p dir="ltr">Cubic paid $92 million up front toward the transition: installing card readers, vending machines, call center operations, etc.</p></li><li dir="ltr"><p dir="ltr">CTA lawyers will be looking into how many fares they&rsquo;ve missed because of bus drivers waving people through when there seemed to be problems with the Ventra card</p></li><li dir="ltr"><p dir="ltr">50 percent of CTA riders are now using Ventra cards</p></li><li dir="ltr"><p dir="ltr">Card readers will now display a &ldquo;low balance&rdquo; screen that lets customers know their Ventra card balance is under $10</p></li></ul><p dir="ltr"><em>Lauren Chooljian is a WBEZ reporter. Follow her <a href="https://twitter.com/laurenchooljian">@laurenchooljian</a>.</em></p></p> Wed, 06 Nov 2013 13:30:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/final-phase-ventra-rollout-suspended-developer-apologizes-109094 Ventra roll out to begin in August http://www.wbez.org/news/ventra-roll-out-begin-august-108222 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/cta.png" alt="" /><p><p dir="ltr">Chicago commuters could be tapping their new <a href="http://www.transitchicago.com/ventra/">Ventra </a>cards on the bus or train as soon as early September, according to Chicago Transit Authority officials. The program will be first rolled out to public school students and universities with the U-Pass program in August, and the slow roll out will continue over the next few months.</p><p dir="ltr">The Ventra pass is a single fare card system that is being billed as an easy tap and go option for riders across both CTA and Pace transportation systems. Ventra users will also have the option to make cash withdrawals from ATM&rsquo;s around the area with their card.</p><p>Starting August 5th, the first U-Pass cards will begin arriving at select universities Rush Medical School, Westwood College of Technology and Northwestern University Law School. Transit officials say additional universities that are enrolled in the U-Pass program will get their cards later this month in time for the start of their fall semesters.</p><p>Chicago Card and Chicago Card Plus customers that have completed the proper address validation will begin receiving their cards in the mail around August 19th. As for Chicago Public Schools students, they&rsquo;ll get their cards during school orientation, so that they&rsquo;ll have Ventra set up for the first day of school on August 26th.</p><p>&ldquo;We wanted to gradually roll in waves of customers, because we&rsquo;re still testing the system and we&rsquo;re doing thousands of transactions weekly,&rdquo; said Tammy Chase, CTA spokeswoman.</p><p>Chase said the staggered roll out will give transit agencies the chance to jump in if any &ldquo;hiccups&rdquo; occur, rather than being inundated by switching the system over all at once.</p><p>As for everyone else, like faithful users of the magnetic stripe cards or day passes, Ventra will be available for purchase on September 9th. New Chicago cards will no longer be issued by September, but balances can be spent or transferred to Ventra. Chase said by December, the CTA and Pace will only accept Ventra. &nbsp;</p><p>The Ventra card will initially cost $5, which transit officials say will be refunded to the card for transit use once the card is registered online or by phone.</p><p><span id="docs-internal-guid-5cfd0be2-3018-4c93-0ef4-5fffb871b89e"><span style="font-size: 16px; font-family: Arial; font-style: italic; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">Lauren Chooljian is a WBEZ&rsquo;s morning producer and Follow her</span><a href="http://twitter.com/triciabobeda" style="text-decoration:none;"><span style="font-size: 16px; font-family: Arial; color: rgb(0, 0, 0); font-style: italic; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;"> </span></a><a href="https://twitter.com/laurenchooljian" style="text-decoration:none;"><span style="font-size: 16px; font-family: Arial; color: rgb(17, 85, 204); text-decoration: underline; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">@laurenchooljian</span></a><span style="font-size: 16px; font-family: Arial; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">.</span></span></p></p> Mon, 29 Jul 2013 09:59:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/ventra-roll-out-begin-august-108222 MPC Roundtable – Bus Rapid Transit on a Roll in Chicago http://www.wbez.org/series/chicago-amplified/mpc-roundtable-%E2%80%93-bus-rapid-transit-roll-chicago-106242 <p><p>Offering similar benefits to rail, but at a fraction of the cost, Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) will make the most of Chicago&#39;s existing street infrastructure to better connect people to neighborhoods and destinations across the city.</p><div>This new form of public transportation not only will increase access to jobs, retail and institutions, including schools and hospitals, but also will run more efficiently than a regular bus, saving riders time and money.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>The City of Chicago has big BRT plans, most significantly the development of a system plan to scope out future priority BRT routes. Already, individual routes are in the works: momentum continues to build for the Central Loop BRT route along Madison and Washington, as the City prepares to release the design, and soon the City will announce the locally preferred alternative for the Western and Ashland corridors. Meanwhile, the Chicago Dept. of Housing and Economic Development will begin a land use study for both corridors, and the Chicago Architecture Foundation is gearing up to kick off a station design competition in March to help influence new BRT stations.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Planning for BRT in Chicago has induced unprecedented partnerships between multiple City agencies and nonprofit organizations. At this roundtable, Gabe Klein, commissioner of the Chicago Dept. of Transportation; <strong>Nick Turner</strong>, managing director of the Rockefeller Foundation; <strong>Rebekah Scheinfeld</strong>, chief planning officer, Chicago Transit Authority; and <strong>Warren Ribley</strong>, executive director of the Illinois Medical District, will discuss exciting developments for this new form of transportation in Chicago.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/MPC-webstory_3.jpg" title="" /></div></div><div>Recorded live Friday, March 1, 2013 at the Metropolitan Planning Council.&nbsp;</div></p> Fri, 01 Mar 2013 15:53:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/series/chicago-amplified/mpc-roundtable-%E2%80%93-bus-rapid-transit-roll-chicago-106242 A health-and-romance-related public service (and public transit) announcement http://www.wbez.org/blogs/claire-zulkey/2013-02/health-and-romance-related-public-service-and-public-transit <p><p>I can&#39;t believe that this is <em>not</em> the first time I have seen this:</p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/2013-02-05_08-51-15_648.jpg" title="" /></div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">Ladies! (Or well-glossed gentlemen.) Don&#39;t kiss the windows of your El car or bus. I&#39;m not a medical doctor but I am pretty sure they are not the cleanest things in the world. Plus, not to mention, it&#39;s not like the CTA deserves your kisses anyway. Save them for when service markedly improves.</div></p> Tue, 05 Feb 2013 09:35:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/claire-zulkey/2013-02/health-and-romance-related-public-service-and-public-transit More people using CTA http://www.wbez.org/story/more-people-using-cta-97261 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/story/photo/2012-March/2012-03-14/CTA accordion bus Flickr.jpg" alt="" /><p><p><img alt="" class="caption" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/story/insert-image/2012-March/2012-03-13/cta web flickr.jpg" style="width: 630px; height: 420px;" title="2011 ridership on CTA reached highest level in twenty years. (Flickr/CTA Web)"></p><p>Chicago Transit Authority ridership went up to 530 million boardings last year, reaching its highest ridership level since 1991.</p><p>Rail ridership grew by 5.2 percent compared to an increase of 1.4 percent in bus usage. The Blue and Brown Lines saw the greatest share of the increase with nearly 6 million more riders.</p><p>“Part of it [the increase] is obviously factors outside our control like rising gas prices,” said CTA President Forrest Claypool. But Claypool also attributes the increase to “improvements we’ve made to provide a safer and more clean and customer friendly experience,” said Claypool.</p><p>With increased ridership, Claypool expects there will be a more urgent need for infracstructure improvements. Claypool said there are plans in place to improve stations on the Howard branch of the Red Line and a reconstruction of the tracks along the Dan Ryan Branch. The CTA also plans to begin replacing older series buses this year.</p><p>Claypool said the improvements may lead to some delays.</p><p>"It may require inconveniences, but in the long run you’ll have faster trains. You’ll have better service overall.” he said.</p></p> Tue, 13 Mar 2012 23:13:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/story/more-people-using-cta-97261 Transit union fights back against CTA budget claims http://www.wbez.org/story/transit-union-fights-back-against-cta-budget-claims-92825 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/story/photo/2011-October/2011-10-04/cta trains_flickr_mikemiley.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>The head of the union representing Chicago Transit Authority rail workers says he doesn't believe union members are completely to blame for CTA budget problems.</p><p>CTA president Forrest Claypool <a href="http://www.wbez.org/story/cta-facing-huge-budget-shortfall-2012-92812">said Tuesday</a> that the agency is short $277 million heading into 2012, due to union contracts he said give workers the highest cost-adjusted salaries in the nation.</p><p>"I have openly said I will sit down and talk about any and every issue and put it on the table," said ATU Local 308 president Robert Kelly. "Doesn't mean we're going to give it up, but we'll talk about it, we'll see what we can do to help. I understand today's economy, I know it's bad out there. But fighting this in the media is not going to be a winning situation for anybody."</p><p>Claypool also criticized the employee absenteeism rates, which he said cost the CTA $40 million in 2011. But Kelly refuted that the number could be that large, and said he was disappointed that he hadn't been told about the CTA's interest in changing work rules.</p><p>"We do not deny there is an absenteesm problem, we can't control that," said Kelly. But, "We do not hire people. Chicago Transit Authority hires individuals."</p><p>Kelly said he believes he fare hikes are "inevitable"; Claypool wouldn't say whether they should be expected.&nbsp;</p></p> Wed, 05 Oct 2011 10:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/story/transit-union-fights-back-against-cta-budget-claims-92825 A late slip from the CTA; why this day above all others? http://www.wbez.org/blog/city-room-blog/2011-06-15/late-slip-cta-why-day-above-all-others-87888 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/photo/2011-June/2011-06-15/ctabusdelay.jpg" alt="" /><p><p style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" class="caption" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/insert-image/2011-June/2011-06-15/ctabusdelay.jpg" style="width: 500px; height: 498px;" title="A gift from the CTA"></p><p style="text-align: left;">This morning, I did my usual, roll-out-of-bed-after-hitting-snooze-three-times-ordeal, and raced to catch the bus at around 8:45. I take the <a href="http://www.transitchicago.com/assets/1/bus_schedules/29.pdf">#29</a> from the South Loop to the WBEZ office at Navy Pier (don't stalk me!), and though it's a straight shot of a ride, the trip takes a surprisingly varied amount of time, considering it's only a little over two miles.</p><p style="text-align: left;">For example, I can get on an 8:30 AM bus, and be at my desk at 9:00. Or, I can get on a 9:15 bus and get to the office at 9:35. What's the difference? Dreaded 9 am traffic, which is about ten times worse any day that it's raining. I've come to expect two 29 buses at one time; instead of the one-every-8-minutes schedule it's supposed to be on, I'll get two buses every 20 minutes.&nbsp;</p><p style="text-align: left;">I'm not special; this is all part of the usual struggle for those who ride the CTA. But today, I got something a little odd. Full of indifference, my bus driver handed me the slip you see above. This is despite the fact that according to my CTA Bus Tracker app, the bus was right on time (though perhaps not on schedule). It clarified that the bus was delayed because of "traffic delays", which has been true every morning I've taken the bus these last months.&nbsp;</p><p style="text-align: left;">Curious, I thought maybe these slips were new, a way for the CTA to get in touch with their disgruntled users, but it appears I (and those in the office around me) <a href="http://www.wbez.org/blog/city-room-blog/2011-02-03/photo-cta-train-delay-slip-blue-line-02032011-940am-81709">just haven't been paying attention</a>. According to the customer service representative I talked to, who seemed confused that I wasn't calling to complain, these slips have been being passed out for ages. When pressed as to how long "ages" is, she said, "I don’t know, but they’ve been doing it forever."</p><p style="text-align: left;">A little research proves that you can even <a href="http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2006-02-28/news/0602280297_1_cta-slip-riders">request an online or faxed slip</a> if you require proof that it <em>just wasn't your fault</em> that you were late. My confusion: why this day, above all others, CTA?</p><p style="text-align: left;">* I swear, this isn't a post written just to prove to my bosses that I'm not late by my own volition.&nbsp;</p></p> Wed, 15 Jun 2011 16:37:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blog/city-room-blog/2011-06-15/late-slip-cta-why-day-above-all-others-87888