News CTA

Ventra headaches continue: Leaving through front doors of bus may cost you

Passengers exiting CTA buses have always been encouraged to use the rear door for efficiency's sake, but bus drivers on Wednesday warned that departing through the front door now could carry an unintended financial penalty thanks to the new Ventra fare system.

They are telling riders to beware, or Ventra will charge you coming and going.

The CTA bus drivers union, which has been critical of the new fare-payment system, didn't characterize the frequency of the alleged phenomenon, which may help explain why some bus riders who monitor their Ventra accounts online are learning they've been charged twice on a single trip.

Multiple charges are a problem that the transit agency acknowledges has occurred and will be remedied by upcoming software changes.

CTA officials said it's "not impossible" that fares could be inadvertently charged during front-door exiting, but they maintained it would be "extremely difficult to occur."

"A Ventra card or contactless bank card must be 13/4 inches or closer to be read by a Ventra reader," CTA spokeswoman Tammy Chase said.

CTA bus drivers said they first noticed that Ventra card scanners are sometimes registering fares when no riders are boarding.

Upon closer scrutiny, they said, it turned out that Ventra and credit or debit card customers who exit through the front door risk paying an extra fare by brushing against or even passing too close to the Ventra scanner mounted near the door, according to officials with the Amalgamated Transit Union Local 241.

All it takes is a backpack, a purse, a wallet in a pocket — anything containing a Ventra card or any other contactless money card — being in close proximity to a Ventra card-scanning device, union officials said, adding that such conditions are common on crowded buses during peak travel periods.

"We were told by CTA as part of our Ventra training that there are protections built into the system to prevent overcharges on the Ventra card," said Herb Kwilinski, a veteran CTA bus driver and an assistant to the union's trustees.

The measures are designed to reduce the likelihood of excess fares being charged in cases where the card is tapped more than once against the Ventra reader during boarding, according to the Ventra contractor, Cubic Transportation Systems Inc.

But the protections apparently do not extend to riders who are already on the bus and then exit via the front door. A clock essentially safeguarding against overcharges during a limited number of minutes resets itself, apparently before some riders reach their stops.

"After a specified time has passed, if you get too close to the Ventra reader, it can deduct a second fare," Kwilinski said.

Bus drivers also have fallen victim to being charged fares while getting in and out of their seats, he said.


Twitter @jhilkevitch

Copyright © 2015, RedEye
Related Content
  • 3 dead, 37 wounded in weekend shootings

    3 dead, 37 wounded in weekend shootings

    Shootings citywide left three dead and 37 wounded over the weekend, including a 5-year-old girl and a 7-year-old boy who were injured in separate shootings about five minutes apart Sunday evening.

  • Byrne Interchange work: Get ready for traffic heartburn

    Byrne Interchange work: Get ready for traffic heartburn

    The heavy lifting will begin this month on the overhaul of the Byrne Interchange near downtown Chicago, leading to anticipated expressway traffic tie-ups mostly over four weekends stretching into the fall, officials will announce Monday.

  • Lolla day 3: Best and worst, plus superlatives

    Lolla day 3: Best and worst, plus superlatives

    Somehow, Lolla’s all over already. This is what we loved and didn’t enjoy quite as much from day 3. Best: I gotta give it to Florence and the Machine. Seems like an obvious choice, but she was just so fun and engaged with the crowd (and the storms). Even her songs I wasn’t familiar with were exciting...

  • Dance all week: Porn and Chicken Monday

    Monday: Porn and Chicken Evil Olive 1551 W. Division St. 773-396-4904 $10 cover after 11 p.m. We only have one pair of shoes—dancing shoes—which means they certainly aren’t reserved for weekends only. Said shoes sent us questing after places to boogie down every night of the work week (after all,...

  • Yep, I took my dad to Lollapalooza

    I suppose I should be old enough to know by now that something doesn't become un-cool just because your parent is there.

  • 2 hospitalized after lake incident near Oak Street Beach

    2 hospitalized after lake incident near Oak Street Beach

    Two people were taken to a hospital after struggling in Lake Michigan near Oak Street Beach on Sunday evening.