Ventra isn’t even ready for beta. At best, it’s a baffling, city-wide practical joke.
Stations still fail to read cards on the first (or second, or third…) try for way too many people. My wife’s card has had a monthly pass since late fall that has been randomly canceled or suspended four times for absolutely no reason. The first two times I called they couldn’t figure it out; ghost in the machine.
The last time I called, it was because an alternate balance loading method was somehow activated. When it came time to load funds, the system couldn’t decide whether to use the pass or auto-load, freaked out, and didn’t load anything. Didn’t tell us. Didn’t text me. Didn’t email. Just gave up.
Now, for this fourth instance, the system is apparently choking on a bunch of pass payments or credits or something or others that haven’t processed since January (which we’ve never been told about and they have no idea why), so the system responded by… removing her pass from the card entirely, allowing the card to go into a negative balance, and suspending the card. Didn’t tell us. Didn’t text me. Didn’t email. Just gave up.
To make this even more fun, our closest L line entrance has no Ventra station. When this card bullshit happens, Jessi has to double her walk time to another station, then manually load up funds on the card that won’t get spent once we call—again—to fix this and get the monthly pass re-applied. Again. Of course, they can’t refund those manual funds, they can only shift them to another card. Bullshit.
For its final trick (for now), Ventra apparently never deletes credit cards from its system. When we signed up, we used our checking account card as the funding source. I deleted it last fall and switched to a credit card. On the phone, the rep told me she saw that original card still attached to our account, but that she can’t delete it because of reasons.
Two months before Chicago switches to it permanently, Ventra remains as much of a broken, inept, and utterly unprepared service as it was when it debuted last year. The people responsible should be ashamed of themselves and replaced.
Say what you want, but I still love my blades and have a great routine down on the lakefront trail, usually on Sundays. Blue line to Millennium Park, get into my blades, skate down around Museum Campus, then all the way back up to Navy Pier, hit the beer garden there, sit down and write for a couple hours. It’s glorious.
And now I’ve found good bootless skates like these that let you use your own shoes so you don’t have to carry them in a backpack. So happy.
by Peter Tsai
LOOKS LIKE T-SHIRT WEATHER ON MONDAY
Fellow Chicagoans: know how Ventra has had a…. “rough” start? Turns out its usage compared to Chicago Card/Plus is off the charts. Previously, CC/CCP accounted for a combined 19 percent of all rides.
Ventra, as of this week? 69 percent.
If you walk through falling snow fast enough, it looks like you’re the Enterprise D, warping through the universe. Or so I’m told.