WBEZ | Pace http://www.wbez.org/tags/pace Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en 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 CTA's new Ventra fare payment system to allow customers to pay with debit, credit cards http://www.wbez.org/news/ctas-new-ventra-fare-payment-system-allow-customers-pay-debit-credit-cards-102700 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/Screen Shot 2012-09-27 at 8.55.13 AM.png" alt="" /><p><p>The Chicago Transit Authority announced on Thursday a new fare system for CTA and Pace, using personal bank-issued debit and credit cards.</p><p>The new system, dubbed Ventra, will come in the form of a debit/credit card equipped with a &ldquo;contactless chip.&rdquo; Much like Chicago Cards, the CTA said customers will need only tap their cards to board trains and buses. The system is expected to launch in the summer of 2013.&nbsp;</p><p>&ldquo;Chicago will become the first major U.S. city to adopt an open fare system for transit,&rdquo; said CTA President Forrest Claypool.</p><p>Customers will still be able to pay with cash to board buses, and the CTA said that eventually customers will be able to use mobile phones to pay for fares.&nbsp;The CTA and Pace will retain full control of their fare structures and will still offer discounted fares for 30- and 7-day passes, the CTA said in a statement.</p><p>According to the new site <a href="http://www.ventrachicago.com/">ventrachicago.com</a>, there will be four payment options, one of which, will allow customers to use their own bank-issued debit cards to pay for transit.&nbsp; The Ventra Card itself, will function the way the Chicago Card Plus does. The Ventra Tickets will replace the magnetic stripe cards and can be used for a single ride or 1-day Ventra ticket, according to the site.</p><p>&ldquo;We are eager to provide this new convenience to our customers because it modernizes our fare system using the latest technoglogy,&rdquo; said Pace Executive Director T.J. Ross.</p><p>The ventrachicago site said the new debit cards will be issued by MetaBank, a savings bank located in Storm Lake, Iowa. MetaBank is a member of FDIC.</p><p>In 2011, Metabank was slapped by regulators for its iAdvance pre-paid debit card program. The Office of Thrift Supervision, which operates under the Treasury Department, said the company engaged in deceptive practices.</p><p>As part of a settlement, the company agreed to pay $5.2 million in refunds and fines over the program, which allowed customers payday and tax refund loans in the form of prepaid debit cards.</p><p><a href="http://blogs.desmoinesregister.com/dmr/index.php/2011/07/18/ots-hits-metabank-for-5-2-million-over-iadvance-program">According to the Des Moines <em>Register</em>:</a></p><blockquote><p>&quot;The iAdvance program offered debit cards to customers and gave them the option of paying a fee to draw on the debit card even if they had no money left in their bank account. The fee would have been less than a conventional overdraft charge, and customers had to opt in to the program, but the federal Office of Thrift Supervision said the loans violated unfair or deceptive trade practice laws.&quot;</p></blockquote><p>The CTA said Ventra Cards and fare products will be sold at vending machines in rail stations and will be available at 2,500 retail locations in Chicago and the suburbs.</p><p>It remains to be seen if the new system will be implemented by Metra.<br /><br />The rail service is in the process of meeting a state mandate that CTA, Pace and Metra all use the same fare system.<br /><br />&quot;We&#39;re in the middle of that process right now, what we&#39;re trying to do is identify the system that works best for Metra,&quot; said Michael Gillis, a spokesman for Metra.<br /><br />&quot;There are some significant differences, they have closed systems and flat fare, where we have an open system and fares that are based on distance.&quot;<br /><br />Gillis said Metra has been in the loop on planned Ventra rollout.</p><p>In the announcement, the CTA also said that Cubic Transportation Systems will provide the fare collection equipment as well as maintenance and support when the system is live. Cubic received a $454 million contract in November 2011; Pace joined the contract in July 2012.</p><p>In this partnership, CTA and Pace will pay Cubic a monthly fee plus a fee per &ldquo;tap&rdquo; or fare.</p><p>As the system is rolled out, CTA said there will be simultaneous acceptance of both Chicago Cards and Chicago Card Plus alongside the Ventra system. In the first half of 2014, there will be a full switchover.&nbsp; Before that, CTA spokesman Brian Steele said &quot;There will be a huge informational campaign, and part of the messaging will be to use the remaining balances [on their old cards].&quot;</p><p>He said users without a compatible debit card can purchase the new Ventra Cards for $5, which they will have a $5 opening credit to use on the CTA.</p><p>&quot;In a nutshell, we&#39;re getting out of the banking business,&quot; said Steele.</p><p>&quot;People are paying us to give them media to use on our system. We had all the processes with taking in that payment,&quot; he said.</p><p>&quot;The open-fare system will save us $5 million a year, and we estimate $50 million a year over the 12-year contract,&quot; Steele said.</p><p>Cubic will be tasked with upgrading and maintaining the fare-collection equipment, which the agency said is &ldquo;nearing the end of its useful life.&rdquo;</p><p>The CTA said the new Ventra machines &mdash; as well as touchpads on buses and turnstyles&nbsp;&mdash;&nbsp;will be installed at rail stations&nbsp;starting in October, but won&#39;t be operational until the pilot tests begin in spring of 2013.</p></p> Thu, 27 Sep 2012 09:23:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/ctas-new-ventra-fare-payment-system-allow-customers-pay-debit-credit-cards-102700 PACE buses to drive on highway shoulders http://www.wbez.org/story/pace-buses-drive-highway-shoulders-93816 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/story/photo/2011-November/2011-11-07/PACE bus.JPG" alt="" /><p><p>PACE buses will soon be driving on the shoulders of Interstate 55, the Stevenson Expressway, in and around Chicago. The new project is expected to save riders up to a half hour in a round-trip commute.</p><p>Buses can use designated shoulders only during rush hour and only when traffic is moving under 35 miles per hour. Marva Boyd is with the Illinois Department of Transportation. She said the state will use federal money to keep debris clear from the highway and its shoulders.</p><p>"At all times, the shoulders will continue to serve their primary purpose of providing a place for motorists to pull over if necessary - for example in the event of a vehicle breakdown, a flat tire, etc," Boyd said.</p><p>Boyd added that Illinois state police will make sure drivers don't follow buses into the special lane. Two PACE bus routes, route 755 and 855, are scheduled to start using the highway's shoulder on November 14th.</p><p>If the pilot project goes well, transportation officials say they may expand it to other area roadways. The Bus on Shoulder program was chosen to start on this highway because of a $35 million dollar project ending this month that resurfaced the Stevenson Exrepssway and improved its shoulders.</p></p> Mon, 07 Nov 2011 19:17:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/story/pace-buses-drive-highway-shoulders-93816 Rahm vows bus rapid transit, but can he deliver? http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/2011-08-23/rahm-promises-brt-can-he-deliver-90926 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/segment/photo/2011-August/2011-08-23/Transmilenio.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>All this week, WBEZ is looking at <a href="http://www.wbez.org/series/first-100-rahm-emanuels-first-100-days-chicago-mayor" target="_blank">Rahm Emanuel’s first 100 days as Chicago mayor</a>.</p><p>One of Emanuel’s pledges is to push for the creation of the city’s first bus-rapid-transit line. The idea behind BRT is to deliver the benefits of rail at a fraction of the cost. BRT shortens travel times through dedicated bus lanes, pre-paid boarding that’s level with station platforms, and traffic signals that favor the buses.</p><p>WBEZ’s West Side bureau reporter <a href="http://www.wbez.org/staff/chip-mitchell" target="_blank">Chip Mitchell</a> gives us a progress report on Emanuel’s ambitious plan.<br> &nbsp;</p></p> Tue, 23 Aug 2011 16:49:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/2011-08-23/rahm-promises-brt-can-he-deliver-90926 Quinn signs universal transit bill, connecting PACE, Metra and CTA systems http://www.wbez.org/story/quinn-signs-universal-transit-bill-connecting-pace-metra-and-cta-systems-88855 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/cta-subway AP file.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Chicago-area commuters soon will be able to transfer seamlessly between CTA, Metra, and PACE through a universal fare card.&nbsp;</p><p>Illinois Governor Pat Quinn signed a bill into law Thursday that will connect the transit systems through a universal card by 2015.</p><p>The move had long been advocated by regional transporation planners, but logistical, political and operational challenges have prevented such coordination until now.</p><p>It is unclear exactly how the systems will be combined under the bill, which was sponsored by Alderman Will Burns and Senator Kwame Raoul; the Metra charges based on distance traveled, but the CTA has a flat fee and charges for transfers.</p><p>Chicago Transit Authority president Forrest Claypool says that the project will be funded by a public-private partnership with vendors yet to be named.</p><p>Claypool says that once the technology is in place, “you could even use your VISA card to tap at any location in any part of the transit system and conveniently access our system and have the fares calculated accordingly,” a step beyond the current Chicago Plus Card used on the CTA.</p><p>The Governor emphasized the importance of the bill as part of his job creation initiative, as well as an alternative to those feeling the crunch from high gas prices. “I really see a partnership of city and suburb,” Quinn said. “I really see us as a one regional entity that’s going to work together for jobs especially, economic development and jobs.”</p><p>Southside resident and member of <a href="http://www.soulinchicago.org/2009/04/transit-campaign-gold-line.html">Southsiders Organizing for Unity and Liberation</a>&nbsp;(SOUL) Lamar Scrugg agrees.</p><p>“There aren’t enough jobs on the southside, so I work on the northside, at DePaul University,” Scruggs said. “Everyday it takes me more than an hour to catch a bus on 55<sup>th</sup> to the red line, and then a train to the northside. I live right by the Metra electric train, which would get me into work much faster, but I have to take the bus, because if I took the Metra and then transferred to the CTA train, I’d have to pay two fares.”</p><p>Claypool says the CTA hopes the card will encourage more people to use transit, which will make up fora&nbsp; loss in revenues from people no longer paying full fare for each leg of their trip.</p><p>The bill also requires research be done into the potential for wireless internet and defibrillators on all fixed route transit.</p></p> Thu, 07 Jul 2011 22:09:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/story/quinn-signs-universal-transit-bill-connecting-pace-metra-and-cta-systems-88855 Transit for elderly and disabled "major issue" http://www.wbez.org/story/2011-blizzard/transit-elderly-and-disabled-major-issue <p><p>Pace Bus&rsquo;s paratransit service, a lifeline to elderly and disabled people who rely on public transportation, has had to overcome significant difficulties to access its riders.</p><p>&ldquo;In the city, and in a number of the suburbs, too, we're running into a lot of issues as far as vehicles being able to access the side streets where people live,&rdquo; said spokesman Patrick Wilmot, &ldquo;and it's been a major issue.&rdquo;</p> <div>Wilmot said the difficulties have been compounded by snow-filled sidewalks.&nbsp;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&ldquo;A lot of times people are using mobility devices, like wheelchairs and walkers and so forth,&rdquo; said Wilmot, &ldquo;and if the sidewalks aren&rsquo;t clear then it becomes really complicated for people to be able to even access the vehicle.&rdquo;</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>The 24-hour, door-to-door service normally makes 8 thousand stops on weekdays, in six counties of the Chicago region. Today, said Wilmot, it handled fewer than 3 thousand. Wilmot credited riders for opting to postpone non-essential trips. Still, he added, the service has logged on-time pickups for 90 percent of its calls since the blizzard hit.</div></p> Thu, 03 Feb 2011 21:49:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/story/2011-blizzard/transit-elderly-and-disabled-major-issue