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Ventra - Bugs, Feedback, and Questions


Busjack
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One other comment on a different note, I thought there was a post somewhere on here (but no search, not even Google, can seem to find it) questioning whether or not the Optimas would get Ventra card readers (or whether they'd be retired before Ventra was implemented).

I did see a Ventra card reader on bus 522 tonight, so, that answers that question (wherever it went).

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.....

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.

At some point it would just escheat to the state. State Treasurer's unclaimed property site.

That's the excuse the banks have for putting a bank account on dormant status, but I still don't see how it justifies the charge.

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At some point it would just escheat to the state. State Treasurer's unclaimed property site.

That's the excuse the banks have for putting a bank account on dormant status, but I still don't see how it justifies the charge.

I just explained it. Eventually, that account can get zeroed out, and the liability is off the books.

What good does it do anyone to have hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of $0.25-$10 (or whatever value) Ventra cards sitting unused? Is it worth the administrative hassle of having the state take custody of it all?

Plus, if the card is unregistered, it will be absolutely impossible to determine the rightful owners/heirs to that card. I can just imagine, 50 years from now, somebody filing a claim for unclaimed property. "Nearly 50 years ago, my grandpa bought a Ventra card and had $10 left on it when he died. Do you have any unclaimed Ventra cards with $10 in value on them? If so, one of them is rightfully mine."

It still doesn't solve the issue of those liabilities being on the books, essentially, forever. Even today's transit cards have an expiration date on them, after which they are worthless and any value on them is lost.

It's all about keeping liability off the books, nothing more. Anyone who doesn't like it is free to not load their Ventra cards with extra money, and then not ride at all for 18 months.

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Plausible explanation for the dormancy fee. (Although I'll note that such fees and expiration dates are illegal for gift cards in Illinois.)

One other comment on a different note, I thought there was a post somewhere on here (but no search, not even Google, can seem to find it) questioning whether or not the Optimas would get Ventra card readers (or whether they'd be retired before Ventra was implemented).

I did see a Ventra card reader on bus 522 tonight, so, that answers that question (wherever it went).

Here's that post. I later hypothesized that if the 500s aren't getting Ventra, they'd be gone rather soon. Since they are, then they're probably sticking around a bit longer.

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I just explained it. Eventually, that account can get zeroed out, and the liability is off the books.

Apparently, you copied but didn't read my point that it escheats to the state, so the indefinite liability isn't the CTA's problem.

Maybe the CTA has the point that it wants to get its hands on the money before the state does, but you didn't respond to that.

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Apparently, you copied but didn't read my point that it escheats to the state, so the indefinite liability isn't the CTA's problem.

I'll defer to your knowledge of legal issues. In a hypothetical situation where there's $10 in unused Ventra funds, and it escheats to the state, how does it become the state's liability instead of CTA's? The state's purpose is to find the rightful owner/next of kin of that $10 in Ventra funds. If someone claims it 50 years from now, then in theory, CTA still has to provide those $10 in rides. That, or does CTA have to provide the state $10 to cover the state's new $10 liability?

While nothing really surprises me, it wouldn't make sense for a law to suddenly transfer unclaimed property liability to the state with nothing to back it up. So, either the state would have to have a way to get paid back by CTA, or CTA would still owe the eventual holder of that card $10 in rides.

Maybe the CTA has the point that it wants to get its hands on the money before the state does, but you didn't respond to that.

I didn't respond to that, because you didn't bring it up.

Nonetheless, the point is that CTA already has their hands on the money. They get their hands on the money the minute someone puts value onto their Ventra card (or maybe not that minute, but however the arrangement between CTA and the company running Ventra have, one of those two entities already has the money). As soon as they get the money, they have a liability on the books that doesn't clear until that money is used as a paid fare. Then the liability becomes revenue.

As long as that money is not spent, the unearned revenue liability will remain on the books indefinitely. That becomes a significant accounting problem over time.

There may be some "get our hands on the money" aspect behind it, but clearing out the liability is a far more logical and likely reason.

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Here's that post. I later hypothesized that if the 500s aren't getting Ventra, they'd be gone rather soon. Since they are, then they're probably sticking around a bit longer.

Thanks. I searched Optima + Ventra, which turned up nothing. I guess I should have searched for "those little buses" + "new fare pay doo-hickeys". I'll try to do better next time.
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I'll defer to your knowledge of legal issues. In a hypothetical situation where there's $10 in unused Ventra funds, and it escheats to the state, how does it become the state's liability instead of CTA's? The state's purpose is to find the rightful owner/next of kin of that $10 in Ventra funds. If someone claims it 50 years from now, then in theory, CTA still has to provide those $10 in rides. That, or does CTA have to provide the state $10 to cover the state's new $10 liability?...

Although state treasurers say they will return unclaimed property, obviously nobody is going to claim a few cents on thousands of cards, so the state keeps it. But it is no longer the CTA's money or liability.

Same thing with a bank account--once the bank turns the account over to the state (according to the web site, after 5 years of inactivity), it is off the bank's books. If you or you heirs want the money, you have to apply to the state treasurer.

I don't want to get into a collateral argument over what banks do, except that banks have told me that they use the abandoned property law as a justification for imposing dormancy fees and trying to put unmatured CDs into dormant status, but that was b.s.

While I implied but did not explicitly say (until the second post) that the CTA wants to get its hands on the money before the state does, that must be what both the banks I described, plus the CTA (or the bank behind Cubic) want to do.

In that you note that CTA will be carrying a liability on its books, that brings up the point that gift cards are not booked as income until someone uses them to spend. Kevin pointed out that other gift cards are subject to a state law that such penalties may not be assessed, but I'm sure that CTA categorizes this as something other than a gift card, although it does quack like one. Anyway, after 18 months, CTA wants to accrue that income.

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When the equipment is all ready on a bus.That should be a sign of a decision was all ready made.The meeting on Monday was done because they had to have a public meeting.

The decision [if you mean the decision to go with this open standards fare system] was made on November 15, 2011 when CTA approved the contract with Cubic (ordinance), and then when Pace went on board.

The only reason for the public hearing was the fare increase. Despite their denials of a fare increase, that's the only reason the public hearing was required.

Rest assured that Cubic wouldn't have installed equipment if CTA and Pace didn't have a contract with them to pay for it.

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Update: I see that the ordinance cited above includes:

“Single Use Rail Cards” - disposable transit cards available for a
single ride on the rail system (and transfer to bus if a transfer is purchased
at the time of card issuance). An additional fee, to be determined by the
Transit Board, will apply to purchase of these cards. The additional fee
will not exceed fifty cents.

Again, reinforcing that the only point to the hearing was a fare increase, as the fee had been determined.

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It's the Lincoln bus cut between Western and Fullerton all over again... customers complain, sign petitions. What does the CTA do? Have a meeting and approve the topic discussed anyway.

I had predicted as much on the CTA Tattler. The Tribune article indicated that there was a little debate, but, basically each took one's $25,000/year to do nothing of substance again.

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One thing I find surprising is how few made the connection that the only way this is a 75 cents per ride fare increase is if you are purchasing one one-way trip at a time at the rail stations through the station vending machines. Meaning Twacy Swartz and the rest of the media reporting on this have been giving misleading statements to advance their stories. You don't want that 75 cents to be per ride then either load up more than one ride with relevant transfers on the freaking card or don't throw the card away after finishing your trip and use that same card to load more rides. Either way the fee would be spread over more than one ride. Since this system is replacing the current transit cards as well as the unlimited ride cards then it should still work as both those very same fare media being replaced, meaning if you're using the card as a transit card then it should work as the current transit cards and be reloadable under that function.

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One thing I find surprising is how few made the connection that the only way this is a 75 cents per ride fare increase is if you are purchasing one one-way trip at a time at the rail stations through the station vending machines. You don't want that 75 cents to be per ride then either one load up more than one ride on the freaking card or don't throw the card away after finishing your trip and use that same card to load more rides. Since this system is replacing the current transit cards as well as the unlimited ride cards then it should still work as both those very same fare media being replaced, meaning if you're using the card as a transit card then it should work as the current transit cards and be reloadable under that function.

You now missed the distinction I missed a couple of weeks ago.

Your choice at the future transit vending machine is to buy either:

  • A Ventra one ride and transfer "ticket" for $3.00.
  • A Ventra "card" for whatever you put on it plus $5.00 credited back to your account on registration.

The "tickets" are to be "thrown away." The only stored value is on the "card."

Of course, there is the third alternative that doesn't involve the vending machine at all, which is to use a Blink bank card.

Some of the news reports are to the effect that the "ticket" is only for tourists, sort of like the O'Hare surcharge, but unless the intent is to dupe tourists, they can use their Blink cards (or eventually smartphones), too, and avoid the charge for Ventra "tickets."

BTW, I have to modify my prior remark that Tracy Swartz hadn't said anything new, in that the one transfer charge being mandatory appears to be new. I'm not sure that was pointed out prior to Hilkevitch's column.

P.S. Also see this Press Release on how a U-Pass can also be used as a stored value card, if someone prepays in addition, for another twist on the flexibility of the proposed system.

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I can't find anything definitive, will a tourist be able to use a blick/PayPass debit/credit card on a bus/turnstile to pay a cash fare? That is to say, no stored value just charging the $2.25?

Should be no difference just because the person is a tourist. Anyone should be able.

Update: My previous comment was based on maybe CTA brass believes that tourists might not be as aware as locals that the turnstile will accept any Blink card and will seek out the vending machine and plunk down the $3.00,

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Should be no difference just because the person is a tourist. Anyone should be able.

Update: My previous comment was based on maybe CTA brass believes that tourists might not be as aware as locals that the turnstile will accept any Blink card and will seek out the vending machine and plunk down the $3.00,

I'm curious as to what level CTA will be promoting the "openness" of the system rather than just the Ventra-branded card. The ability to use any contactless credit/debit card should be most appealing to tourists and infrequent riders. It makes buses in particular more approachable, as there's no longer a need to first acquire a transit card or the right denominations for a cash fare.

The contactless requirement, however, could still be a stumbling block for many people. Not all credit cards have this technology and it goes by several different names (Chase Blink, Visa payWave, MasterCard PayPass, Discover Zip, etc). Those who do have contactless cards may not even realize it.

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You now missed the distinction I missed a couple of weeks ago.

Your choice at the future transit vending machine is to buy either:

  • A Ventra one ride and transfer "ticket" for $3.00.
  • A Ventra "card" for whatever you put on it plus $5.00 credited back to your account on registration.

The "tickets" are to be "thrown away." The only stored value is on the "card."

Of course, there is the third alternative that doesn't involve the vending machine at all, which is to use a Blink bank card.

Some of the news reports are to the effect that the "ticket" is only for tourists, sort of like the O'Hare surcharge, but unless the intent is to dupe tourists, they can use their Blink cards (or eventually smartphones), too, and avoid the charge for Ventra "tickets."

BTW, I have to modify my prior remark that Tracy Swartz hadn't said anything new, in that the one transfer charge being mandatory appears to be new. I'm not sure that was pointed out prior to Hilkevitch's column.

P.S. Also see this Press Release on how a U-Pass can also be used as a stored value card, if someone prepays in addition, for another twist on the flexibility of the proposed system.

Thank you Busjack. That is indeed the missing detail and distinction I did not have. Now I see why so many folks are upset. Fortunately as I stated before my debit card is a blink card and I would still be able to avoid these extra fees either way. So I'll modify my prior post and say just get the multiride card if you're one of those whose squeamish of using your own debit card for fare payment, and register it since at the very least they will change that 5 buck fee into usable fares.

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Hiklevitch's column today basically is on "The Chicago Transit Authority soon will launch a new fare-payment system that affects almost every CTA and Pace rider, although transit officials have yet to fully explain how it will work.


Poor communications with customers is something the CTA has nearly down to a science, if recent developments are any sign. ..."

Of course, we knew that already. Someone's supposed friend, Brian Steele said "We still have more work to do to get word out about Ventra[,]"

And with stuff like "combined U Pass prepaid" accounts on cards, it certainly is more complicated than double talker Claypool indicates. I bet he doesn't know how it works.

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I still don't buy the idea that the CTA wants to push the Credit/Debit card on passengers based on Money Networks shady history. I will do what I can to defer my customers from being scammed by this fraudulent company. Get a card that allows you to ride a bus/train that you don't have to link to a account, fine. But you shouldn't have to get it linked to a Checking or Credit/Debit account to avoid fees. That sounds like a scam to me by Money Network.

This is all Money Network:

http://www.ripoffreport.com/directory/money-network.aspx

http://www.bbb.org/denver/business-reviews/credit-services/money-network-in-englewood-co-90012472/complaints

http://www.complaintsboard.com/complaints/money-network-cordova-tennessee-c244650.html

Most complaints are old, but would you trust your Checking, Credit/Debit card info to such a shady bank?

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... Get a card that allows you to ride a bus/train that you don't have to link to a account, fine. But you shouldn't have to get it linked to a Checking or Credit/Debit account to avoid fees.

As frequently pointed out here and on the Ventra site, you can do the first, and you don't "have" to do the second. "You can activate your optional Money Network® Prepaid Debit Account." Emphasis added, but note the word "optional."

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And did we not have it pointed out that if not for cubic, Jewel and the othehr stores would not be able to accommodate debit and credit card payments therefore losing a very large amount of money? So let it go already. The only folks who would love to worry about losing funds are those who opt in to the debit card functions and have zero sense on how to properly handle their own money. So the only thing you would be doing is interfering with your customers' transit options. As for how this will work, what's there to understand? You use your own blink debit or credit card or one of the new ventra options to tap and pay your fare. The only details missing are how the fee is implemented and the list of fare card options.

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I have E-Mailed the CTA directly about this, and will await their reply and share it with you. CBS brought this up to the CTA awhile back(link to the link here) and they were even suprised by the findings.

jajuan, I am not deterring my customers from getting a Ventra Card. What I am going to make sure they know is that Money Network is a company with a checkered past, and they shouldn't activate any optional Money Network® Prepaid Debit Account and link any Credit/Debit or Checking Account to that. As far as Cubic goes(if that's what Jewel and other major retailers have), I do regular Credit/Debit transactions at my store as well as places like Target, Sears, etc... and have no issues with my accounts. Cubic seems to be a good company if they do indeed handle most stores' electronic transactions.

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