Confusing turnstile delays that sometimes led to denied entry or a second charge from double-tapping have largely vanished from the rail system in the weeks following software upgrades by Cubic Corp., the CTA’s fare media vendor.
In its second weekly Ventra progress report, the CTA released data showing that its rail system processed 99.8 percent of more than 5 million transactions under 2.5 seconds, with an average speed of 0.6 seconds. This is for the period Nov. 18 to Dec. 1, following software upgrades that have been made to the rail system.
With sufficient data on the software’s rail performance, the CTA is now rolling out the same upgrades to its bus fleet, and is expected to complete the rollout this week. Limited data from the first 1.6 million transactions over a small portion of its fleet is encouraging, with 99.9 percent of transactions taking 2.5 second or less.
The CTA continues to closely monitor the performance of the system’s vendor, Cubic Transportation Systems.
This report is a summary of many of those performance areas. Overall, there has been improvement in nearly every performance area since the CTA announced on Nov. 5 new accountability measures for Cubic to improve Ventra’s performance. Those requirements included lowering average call wait times to Ventra customer service of five minutes or less to speak to an operator; all Ventra readers must process taps in 2.5 seconds or less, 99 percent of the time; and vending machines and card readers on both buses and at rail stations must have a 99 percent availability or "uptime."
While many performance standards are currently or close to being met, there is more progress to be made.
Some highlights of the Ventra data as of Dec. 1:
- More than 66 percent of CTA rides are via Ventra. Every day, hundreds of thousands of riders use Ventra. There are now more than one million Ventra accounts.
- Call Center performance has improved, with average call wait times remaining below 5 minutes and overall call volume declining 17 percent in November from October.
- Average rail reader tap times were 0.6 seconds, showing significant improvement following software upgrades that have been made in recent weeks, with room for further progress to be made. Average bus tap times were 1.1 seconds, with software upgrades completed at three of seven CTA bus garages so far, with improvements made based on 1.6 million transactions since Nov. 19. The upgrade continues to be rolled out to the entire bus fleet.
- System availability – Ventra readers and vending machines’ uptime – was 99.35 percent at rail station turnstiles and 99.63 percent at wheelchair accessible gates. Ventra vending machines showed an average uptime of 98.34 percent.
The CTA has nearly completed its outreach to Chicago Card Plus and registered Chicago Card customers to assist them with the transition to Ventra. On Nov. 22, the CTA began an email survey that is being sent to an estimated 30,000 Chicago Card Plus and registered Chicago Card users who have been mailed Ventra cards to customer-verified addresses but have not yet activated them. The goal is to solicit ongoing feedback so the CTA can then better assist customers with the information they need to complete the activation process. This follows more than 120,000 phone calls and at least one followup email providing activation instructions to every Chicago Card Plus and registered Chicago Card customer that have been made to CC card customers.
The report also shows the Regional Transit Authority (RTA) is nearing completion of its mailing of more than 545,000 free and reduced fare cards to seniors and people with disabilities, although only 39 percent have activated their cards to date.