WBEZ | forrest claypool http://www.wbez.org/tags/forrest-claypool 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 Wells Street Bridge to be closed for a year http://www.wbez.org/news/wells-street-bridge-be-closed-year-103554 <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/6679244655_22bfa7aaec_z.jpg" style="height: 459px; width: 620px; " title="(Flickr/Seth Anderson)" /></div><p>Starting Monday November 5, the Wells Street Bridge will be closed to vehicles and pedestrians for a year, as the Chicago Department of Transportation (CDOT) works to reconstruct it.</p><p>CTA trains will still use the bridge, excluding &quot;two nine-day service interruptions next spring, when the CTA will also rebuild the Loop &lsquo;L&rsquo; junction at Lake and Wells Streets, known as Tower 18,&quot; <a href="http://www.cityofchicago.org/city/en/depts/cdot/provdrs/bridge/news/2012/oct/wells_street_bridgetobereconstructed.html">said the City of Chicago</a>. These interruptions are scheduled for March and late April of 2013.</p><p>The historic parts of the bridge, including the railings and bridge houses, will be replaced but will remain period; the bridge was originally built in 1922. But all trusses and steel framing for the lower level road and upper level railway structures will be replaced, as will the mechnical and electrical parts.</p><p>Traffic will be rerouted to LaSalle and Clark Street bridges; the #11 and #125 buses will reroute to take Kinzie, LaSalle and Wacker, eventually routing ending back to Wells.</p><p>During the complete closure periods, on weekdays, Brown Line trains will either end at Merchandise Mart or keep going to the State Street subway. Bus shuttles will also be used.</p><p>According to CDOT, on the weekdays, almost 700 trains pass through the Tower 18 junction on a weekday, with almost 500 on the weekends. CTA President Forrest Claypool said the work on Tower 18 was originally scheduled to take place during the continued Loop Track renewal project, but combining it with the Wells Bridge repairs will save the city $500,000 in construction costs.</p></p> Wed, 31 Oct 2012 11:58:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/wells-street-bridge-be-closed-year-103554 North Side Red Line could see similar major construction http://www.wbez.org/news/north-side-red-line-could-see-similar-major-construction-99828 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/redline-belmont.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>The president of the Chicago Transit Authority says the North Side of the Red Line is next.</p><p>Earlier this week, Forrest Claypool announced the South Side portion of the Red Line will be completely shut down for five months next year for reconstruction.&nbsp;But Claypool says a similar project is in the works for North Side Red Line riders as well.</p><p>&quot;I got news for people,&quot; Claypool <a href="http://www.wbez.org/programs/afternoon-shift-steve-edwards/2012-06-05/forrest-claypool-red-line-south-closure-plan-99825">said Tuesday on WBEZ&#39;s <em>Afternoon Shift</em></a>. &quot;The north Red Line has to be rebuilt as well. And we&#39;re not that many years away from that happening.&quot;</p><p>Claypool said he would not want to completely shut down the North Side Red Line.</p><p>He said the Red Line is longer on the North Side than on the South Side and construction would likely be staggered, rather than have the entire stretch closed at one time.</p><p>&quot;There clearly will be disruptions at that time, but at the end of the day years from now, assuming we get the proper federal support for that project, you will have literally a brand new railroad from the far northern suburbs to the very southern portions of the City of Chicago,&quot; he said.</p></p> Tue, 05 Jun 2012 16:17:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/north-side-red-line-could-see-similar-major-construction-99828 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 CTA: Millions wasted on parts and supplies http://www.wbez.org/story/cta-millions-wasted-parts-and-supplies-96569 <p><p>The Chicago Transit Authority is looking to make some money off of unused spare parts. The agency is warehousing about $70 million dollars-worth of bus and train parts. About a third of those parts are now obsolete and 47 percent hasn't been touched in two years.</p><p>CTA President Forrest Claypool is looking for an auction broker to help sell those unused parts.</p><p>“Any monies that we receive from actually selling off inventory that actually can be salvaged we will be put right back into the system,” said Claypool.</p><p>Claypool blamed past CTA managers for buying millions of dollars of supplies that were never used. Claypool said the workers at the warehouse did the best they could but, “for many years they lacked the proper tools or sufficient direction, leadership and support from CTA leadership to make the best decisions.”</p><p>Claypool said large purchases will be more closely reviewed before orders are placed. Additional proposed changes include leveraging the city’s purchasing power when negotiating with CTA’s vendors.</p></p> Mon, 20 Feb 2012 21:38:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/story/cta-millions-wasted-parts-and-supplies-96569 Union leaders speak out against new CTA budget http://www.wbez.org/story/union-leaders-speak-out-against-new-cta-budget-94119 <p><p>Some union leaders are speaking out against the Chicago Transit Authority's new budget.</p><p>On Tuesday, the CTA Board approved the agency's $1.24 billion budget proposal. The new budget avoids fare hikes or service cuts, but only if the CTA can get work rule concessions from labor unions. The CTA is hoping to close its $277 million budget short fall in large part through those negotiations.</p><p>Amalgamated Transit Union Local 308 President Robert Kelly represents many CTA rail worker. He expects the plan to fail.</p><p>"To sit here and put that burden on our employees or pressure on me to get them that again is irresponsible, and quite frankly I don't think it's going to happen," said Kelly.</p><p>A spokesperson for CTA says the agency is scheduled to meet with union leaders on Tuesday of next week to start contract negotiations. The current contracts are scheduled to expire at the end of the year.</p><p>President Forrest Claypool has said more than 1,000 CTA workers could be laid off if no agreement is reached.</p></p> Wed, 16 Nov 2011 23:06:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/story/union-leaders-speak-out-against-new-cta-budget-94119 CTA 2012 budget headed for a vote despite bumpy ride http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/2011-11-15/cta-2012-budget-headed-vote-despite-bumpy-ride-94052 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/segment/photo/2011-November/2011-11-15/Vincent Desjardins--Chicago (ILL) Chicago Transit Authority, CTA, W. Van Buren St. Lasalle Van Buren station.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>The Chicago City Council was scheduled to vote on the 2012 budget Wednesday but first, the <a href="http://www.transitchicago.com/" target="_blank">Chicago Transit Authority</a> board was to vote on its own budget Tuesday; but not without contention. CTA President Forrest Claypool has said unions' outdated work rules needed to go. Claypool aimed to fill an estimated $277 million budget shortfall but union leaders have said the proposed changes will not solve the whole problem. They were mad that Claypool appeared to blame it all on old work rules and think there is more to the issue. At this point, they have taken a lot of personal shots at Claypool. The showdown could result in bad news for riders--higher fares and service cuts. To learn more <em>Eight Forty-Eight</em> turned to <a href="http://www.chicagotribune.com/classified/automotive/traffic/chi-jonhilkevitch,0,3124478.columnist" target="_blank">Jon Hilkevitch</a>, the <em>Chicago Tribune</em> transportation reporter.</p><p><em>Music Button: Dead Cat Bounce, "Far From the Matty Crowd", from the album Chance Episodes, (Cuneiform)</em></p></p> Tue, 15 Nov 2011 15:06:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/2011-11-15/cta-2012-budget-headed-vote-despite-bumpy-ride-94052 Board to vote on 2012 CTA budget http://www.wbez.org/story/board-vote-2012-cta-budget-94043 <p><p>The Chicago Transit Authority's board of directors is scheduled to vote on the agency's $1.24 billion proposed budget on Tuesday.</p><p>Under the proposed budget, CTA President Forrest Claypool hopes to close the agency's $277 million deficit next year and avoid fare hikes or service cuts in large part by re-negotiating union contracts.</p><p>On Monday, budget watchdog group The Civic Federation released a statement supporting the budget plan. President Laurence Msall said changing the labor rules is the most reasonable way the CTA can balance its budget.</p><p>"These are enormously inefficient rules that need to be eliminated," said Msall. "The riders of the CTA are having a difficult time paying their own bills and maintaining their jobs. And to go to a fair increase at this time would be very difficult."</p><p>The Civic Federation warns if CTA can't get the savings from union negotiations, it will have to raise fares or cut services.</p><p>Union leaders have said the estimated savings from those negotiations are exaggerated.</p></p> Mon, 14 Nov 2011 23:29:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/story/board-vote-2012-cta-budget-94043 CTA considers ending employee free rides http://www.wbez.org/story/cta-considers-ending-employee-free-rides-93934 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/story/photo/2011-November/2011-11-10/3998199795_ce2b6fec6d.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Unionized Chicago Transit Authority employees could face losing their free ride passes.</p><p>CTA President Forrest Claypool said on Tuesday that ending free rides is one money-saving option the agency is looking at in its upcoming union contract negotiations, which he said will help fill the agency's $277 million budget deficit.</p><p>"It's something we're discussing with the union, among other changes," said Claypool, "but it's a collective bargaining process."</p><p>Amalgamated Transit Authority Local 308 President Robert Kelly, who represents many CTA employees, said ending free rides for employees would not save that much money.</p><p>"I don't know what he's trying to gain out of this," said Kelly. "Obviously, he's trying to gain some money, and this is stretching it to the max. I don't believe that the plan would save him more than or three million dollars a year."</p><p>Claypool says he doesn't know how much money could be saved by ending the free rides.</p><p>CTA hopes to save about $160 million next year from re-negotiating union contracts.</p></p> Thu, 10 Nov 2011 16:34:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/story/cta-considers-ending-employee-free-rides-93934 CTA to start installing new rail cars on 'L' trains http://www.wbez.org/content/cta-start-installing-new-rail-cars-l-trains <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/story/photo/2011-November/2011-11-09/6327130654_9ab20bf058_b.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>The Chicago Transit Authority says more than 700 new rail cars are being added to the city's "L" trains as part of a plan to upgrade the transit system.</p><p>The new, more energy-efficient 5000 series rail cars will have wider aisle, sideways seating and LED maps. The new cars will also be equipped with security cameras that will transmit video to CTA's control center, the Office of Emergency Management and Communications and the Chicago Police Department.</p><p><a href="http://www.wbez.org/blog/city-room-blog/2011-11-09/photos-chicagos-trains-get-upgrade-check-out-ctas-new-l-cars-93906"><img alt="" class="caption" src="http://farm7.static.flickr.com/6211/6327129938_9342999d0f_z.jpg" style="margin-right: 15px; margin-top: 15px; margin-bottom: 15px; float: left; width: 280px; height: 187px; " title="Click image to see more photos"></a>Mayor Rahm Emanuel said the upgrade will help keep businesses in Chicago.</p><p>"[Businesses] will see another key strategic advantage for the city of Chicago," said the mayor. "Moving goods and people and providing services will be done fast, with comfort, with speed and with certainty that we are making those types of investments."</p><p>A CTA spokesperson said plans to buy new rail cars began in 2006 under former Mayor Richard Daley. She said prototype testing ended in May of this year and that the last pieces of funding for the project were finalized just last month.</p><p>The $1.1 billion project will be paid for with bonds and federal funding.</p><p>The first new cars were scheduled to be introduced on the Pink Line on Monday. CTA President Forrest Claypool said a new six-car train is expected to be put into service every two weeks through 2014. Claypool said the new cars will be added to the Red and Green lines starting in 2012, followed by the Yellow, Purple and Orange lines. The upgrade will allow CTA to retire some of its oldest cars, some which are more than 40 years old.</p></p> Tue, 08 Nov 2011 23:02:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/content/cta-start-installing-new-rail-cars-l-trains