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Ventra - Bugs, Feedback, and Questions


Busjack
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1. As indicated, another reason not to use a Ventra card, although what CTA is essentially doing is having another "non fare increase" fare increase to passes. Otherwise, they wouldn't need a public hearing.

2. Dormant fees: Banks charge this all the time, for no apparent reason. BoA even counts CDs as dormant, even though you can't take money out of them.

Another question may be that if there are going to be all the chips on "disposable cards," is CTA going to have a way to recycle them? I see at the end that they make reference to the "environmental impact."

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I also notice that they made this as inconspicuous as possible. Nothing in the Press Releases, and the only way to click into it is News and Initiatives->Reports and Notices->Notice of Public Hearing. However, the header on the item itself is Press Releases, if we believe the light blue left pane.

I'm really sure that was all unintentional. :wub:

I also assume that one of your search feeds brought it to your attention, Kevin. Maybe Hilevitch will find it in a day or two.

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1-Day: $10 (up from $5.75)

3-Day: $20 (up from $14)

7-Day(CTA): $28 (up from $23)

7-Day(CTA/PACE): $33 (up from $28)

30-Day(RF): $50 (up from $35)

30-Day(FF): $100 (up from $75)

Haven't we had enough fare increases on these, CTA??? Now you're thinking about adding .50 cents for a disposal fee??? :angry:

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1. As indicated, another reason not to use a Ventra card, although what CTA is essentially doing is having another "non fare increase" fare increase to passes. Otherwise, they wouldn't need a public hearing.

2. Dormant fees: Banks charge this all the time, for no apparent reason. BoA even counts CDs as dormant, even though you can't take money out of them.

Another question may be that if there are going to be all the chips on "disposable cards," is CTA going to have a way to recycle them? I see at the end that they make reference to the "environmental impact."

Only one problem with your first premise, they're thinking of tacking that 50 cents disposal fee on the unlimited passes that have the magnetic strip not the Ventra cards on which you can load those fare options on. So you would be getting charged the disposal fees if you DIDN'T get an unlimited pass loaded on your Ventra card and used one of the current forms of those passes. So if you don't use a Ventra card as you suggest, say hello to the 50 cent fee if this is approved. One other thing to remember is that Ventra will be replacing the current system of magnetic strip cards on both CTA and Pace starting next year to begin with, so if anything this is likely their way of weaning folks off the magnetic strip cards and steering them toward the Ventra system so that they're used to system when the conversion is complete.

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Only one problem with your first premise, they're thinking of tacking that 50 cents disposal fee on the unlimited passes that have the magnetic strip not the Ventra cards on which you can load those fare options on. So you would be getting charged the disposal fees if you DIDN'T get an unlimited pass loaded on your Ventra card and used one of the current forms of those passes. So if you don't use a Ventra card as you suggest, say hello to the 50 cent fee if this is approved.

Go back and read the notice itself.

They aren't imposing a "disposal fee." It said "To offset production costs, a fee of $0.50 will be included in the

purchase price of the disposable Limited Use Ticket for a single ride and for disposable tickets sold in bulk for single ride, 1-Day, 3-Day, 5-Day and 7-Day Passes."

It is a production fee, not a disposal fee.

Also, the only inference that can be raised is that CTA is abolishing the magnetic stripe cards, and replacing them with RFID cards that have the same functions as the single ride and pass cards. The reference to "a one-time cost for purchase of the Reloadable Card of $5.00 plus the cost of any initial stored value or pass product" pretty much indicates that there won't be any mag stripe reloadble cards, and basically no distrinction with regard to the successors to either the mag cards with a 2 year expiration date or the Chicago Card. Update: I did go back to confirm Kevin's statement that a purchaser of a Ventra card gets the $5 back if it is registered. My only point is that the Ventra Card would be the only way to store value on Cubic issued media in the future, not a mag stripe card.

Update: If you are trying to draw a distinction between the means of payment to be issued by Cubic, the Ventra site says there will only be:

  • Ventra Card, a transit and prepaid debit card that can be used for transit and everyday purchases;
  • Ventra Tickets, for single-ride and 1-Day passes; and
  • Personal bank-issued credit or debit cards

I only brought up recycling, because it seemed environmentally incongruous to be charging for all these disposable chips and then throwing them into the landfill.

But it appears that the only way one avoids the production fees is to use a bank card or register a Ventra card, and even then you don't avoid the dormancy fee if the transit wallet is loaded into your bank card.

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1-Day: $10 (up from $5.75)

3-Day: $20 (up from $14)

7-Day(CTA): $28 (up from $23)

7-Day(CTA/PACE): $33 (up from $28)

30-Day(RF): $50 (up from $35)

30-Day(FF): $100 (up from $75)

Haven't we had enough fare increases on these, CTA??? Now you're thinking about adding .50 cents for a disposal fee??? :angry:

Having read this in light of jajuan's comment, it isn't a disposal fee, and if you register a Ventra card and then put these passes on it, you avoid the charge.

However, given that the main means of selling 1 day passes is at O'Hare (and it is questionable whether that is worth it to avoid the $5.00 boarding fare), I would bet that most of the 1 day passes sold are the "disposable tickets." 7 day passes apparently will also be available as disposable tickets, but not 30 day ones, which would have to be loaded onto a Ventra Card or associated with your bank card.

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Go back and read the notice itself.

They aren't imposing a "disposal fee." It said "To offset production costs, a fee of $0.50 will be included in the

purchase price of the disposable Limited Use Ticket for a single ride and for disposable tickets sold in bulk for single ride, 1-Day, 3-Day, 5-Day and 7-Day Passes."

It is a production fee, not a disposal fee.

Also, the only inference that can be raised is that CTA is abolishing the magnetic stripe cards, and replacing them with RFID cards that have the same functions as the single ride and pass cards. The reference to "a one-time cost for purchase of the Reloadable Card of $5.00 plus the cost of any initial stored value or pass product" pretty much indicates that there won't be any mag stripe reloadble cards, and basically no distrinction with regard to the successors to either the mag cards with a 2 year expiration date or the Chicago Card. Update: I did go back to confirm Kevin's statement that a purchaser of a Ventra card gets the $5 back if it is registered. My only point is that the Ventra Card would be the only way to store value on Cubic issued media in the future, not a mag stripe card.

Update: If you are trying to draw a distinction between the means of payment to be issued by Cubic, the Ventra site says there will only be:

I only brought up recycling, because it seemed environmentally incongruous to be charging for all these disposable chips and then throwing them into the landfill.

But it appears that the only way one avoids the production fees is to use a bank card or register a Ventra card, and even then you don't avoid the dormancy fee if the transit wallet is loaded into your bank card.

Looks like we both misread it in that after looking at it again, they will still make the 1-day, 3-day, 7-day and 30-day passes and the transit cards but in the Ventra format and that's what will be getting the extra 50 cent fee and your prior comment that it was another reason not to use a Ventra card. I think that would be the other way around. And no I wasn't making a distinction to means of payment other than magnetic strip passes and transit cards will no longer be made. They'll be produced in the new contactless blink card format. So the ways of avoiding the fee will be to get the Ventra card that you can reload your fares or any of the unlimited passes on or use your own contactless debit/credit card to do so. So that part of my prior post was correct. You're not getting charged the fee to use the Ventra card itself or your own bank/credit card. I do see your point about the incongruous position of still having transit cards and unlimited passes that you buy at a Jewel, Dominick's or currency exchange that you only use once and chuck in the garbage. But I'm guessing the extra 50 cents take on to those fare media at that point that after magnetic strip cards are no longer produced witll be enough of a deterrent to steer folks into either buying and registering a Ventra card or using their own bank issued cards.

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Looks like we both misread it in that after looking at it again, they will still make the 1-day, 3-day, 7-day and 30-day passes and the transit cards but in the Ventra format and that's what will be getting the extra 50 cent fee and your prior comment that it was another reason not to use a Ventra card....

I added the updates when I realized that I possibly had confused some things, among them the actual distinction between a Ventra Ticket and a Ventra Card.

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I added the updates when I realized that I possibly had confused some things, among them the actual distinction between a Ventra Ticket and a Ventra Card.

Yeah I noticed you were making your updates at the same time I was making my last response. But it looks like we both got the distinctions now.

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New Ventra card readers have begun to replace the ones that were first installed on buses. These have a green light near the top and appear to be more service ready.

Pictures up to now indicated (at least to me) that something was under a cover, and this is what was uncovered. Correct impression?

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New Ventra card readers have begun to replace the ones that were first installed on buses. These have a green light near the top and appear to be more service ready.

I believe the initial installation only involved wiring and mounting hardware. This next phase involves installation of the actual readers, which have also begun appearing on turnstiles. The sticker on the top portion of the reader is covering an LCD display.
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New Ventra card readers have begun to replace the ones that were first installed on buses. These have a green light near the top and appear to be more service ready.

I saw this on NF artic 4195 last night. And it was more than just that new unit installed over the base that we all have been seeing the past few months. There's also a unit to the right of the bus's steering wheel that has a computer display which I gather would be for the operators' use in seeing if a rider's fare registered properly.

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There's also a unit to the right of the bus's steering wheel that has a computer display which I gather would be for the operators' use in seeing if a rider's fare registered properly.

Yep.

I'll note that Metra could install these same units throughout their stations for use with a tap-on, tap-off policy (no turnstiles required). But instead they'll probably end up implementing some half-assed integration with Ventra that will still require purchasing tickets that must be punched/scanned by conductors.

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Yep.

I'll note that Metra could install these same units throughout their stations for use with a tap-on, tap-off policy (no turnstiles required). But instead they'll probably end up implementing some half-assed integration with Ventra that will still require purchasing tickets that must be punched/scanned by conductors.

As Metra has repeatedly stated, they have two ICE grants to study the situation, and are looking into what MBTA is doing.

However, Metra isn't taking Pace's active passive aggression stance indicated in the Pace minutes that Pace first thought Metra was going along with Ventra, and, in the Dec. Minutes that Pace hopes that Metra doesn't interfere with Ventra.

Anyway, the current Metra position (pdf via Google).

And I think we previously discussed how a tap off policy would not be enforceable (or at least practical with 1000 passengers leaving a train at CUS, for instance).

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While Metra certainly is one of the larger commuter railroads in the country (without looking it up, I'd wager that only the Northeast Corridor commuters are busier), I have a hard time believing that the solution for Metra should be that difficult.

Hypothetical procedure:

Monthlies: No real need to tap on and off, provided the pass is valid. Just tapping on should be enough. The pass should be encoded with the zones where the pass is valid, and if someone is riding beyond the zone, they either buy-up ahead of time, or risk the penalty (not really that different than how it's done now).

Ten-rides: Similar to monthlies. If you buy ten rides in advance for a discounted price, then you tap on and it deducts a ride. As long as the rider doesn't go beyond the valid zones, it really doesn't matter where he/she gets on or off.

Single-rides: Tap on, and specify direction. If you don't tap off, the system assumes you traveled to the end of the line, and deducts the fare accordingly.

Since most daily commuters are going to be on some sort of multi-ride ticket, you'd already eliminate the need for the bulk of your rush crowd tapping off. The only tap-offs would need to be for single-ride tickets, and making the rider specify direction and assuming they ride to the end unless they tap off means that those traveling to Chicago wouldn't have to tap off anyway.

Allowing a monthly ticket on a smart card would eliminate those super-long lines you see in Union Station around the 30th/31st/1st of every month, because all that could be handled online. Replace some of those agents with more Ventra card machines (and get rid of those Metra TVMs, which have got to be easily the slowest ticket machines known to man; ten years ago I was buying LIRR tickets in New York using machines that were faster and easier to use than the machines Metra bought last year).

Metra could also eliminate the tap-off need by enabling passengers to select their destination from the machine before tapping on (though this would slow down the transaction process; but might be necessary anyway if they wanted to install machines to allow passengers to buy single-ride tickets).

Still, other commuter railroads in this country have figured out how to handle smart cards for fare payment. But since it wasn't invented in the 1940s, Metra hasn't been interested until now.

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While Metra certainly is one of the larger commuter railroads in the country (without looking it up, I'd wager that only the Northeast Corridor commuters are busier), I have a hard time believing that the solution for Metra should be that difficult.

Then I suppose that you should apply for their ICE grant contracts.

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I believe the initial installation only involved wiring and mounting hardware. This next phase involves installation of the actual readers, which have also begun appearing on turnstiles. The sticker on the top portion of the reader is covering an LCD display.

Yup, it displays a Logon screen.

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And she comes to this based on what I wonder.

You have to click on the link in the tweet to get your answer.

That takes you to her RedEye article (direct link), where she adds up the base fare to get on the rapid transit of $2.25, $.25 for a transfer, and the 50 cent fee for the disposable Ventra ticket. As we discussed above, you and I can avoid the latter fee by using a Blink debit card.

Hence, a tweet and headline more for its shock value. The RedEye article doesn't say anything new.

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You have to click on the link in the tweet to get your answer.

That takes you to her RedEye article (direct link), where she adds up the base fare to get on the rapid transit of $2.25, $.25 for a transfer, and the 50 cent fee for the disposable Ventra ticket. As we discussed above, you and I can avoid the latter fee by using a Blink debit card.

Hence, a tweet and headline more for its shock value. The RedEye article doesn't say anything new.

Yeah I actually just got done reading that very article as we speak. It's linked to the homepage.

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  • 2 weeks later...

The dormancy fee seems kind of silly, since I can't imagine what costs are associated with an inactive "transit account", which is really nothing more than a database record in their computer systems.

Kind of an older post that I missed, but I can see why they'd want a dormancy fee. Basically, it removes liability (unearned revenue) that can build up over time from people putting money onto a card and not using it.

It's the same reason many gift certificates and gift cards have expiration dates.

It may not cost anything to keep a record of what value is on that card, but as time passes, you will have a liability on the books of who knows how much money (possibly millions of dollars).

I don't see the dormancy fee as really hurting anybody. If someone gets a Ventra card, puts money on it, then for whatever reason (died, moved away, were just a visitor and aren't coming back to Chicago any time soon) stops using it, they're not getting the money back anyway. People who are that hard-up for money that they can't afford losing $5 after 18 months probably shouldn't be overloading their card with that much money anyway. Anyone else will probably have a reason to use the card within 18 months and won't be impacted by the fee.

But if they didn't charge a dormancy fee, they'd theoretically have to keep that liability on the books forever, and, what with forever being a really long time and all, that really could start to cause some serious accounting problems.

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