By Tracy Swartz, @tracyswartz
5:10 PM CDT, October 7, 2013
Turns out, the waiting is not the hardest part.
Some Chicago Card users said they finally received their Ventra cards in the mail but had difficulty activating and then registering their cards online because they never received Ventra emails telling them their usernames and passwords.
Sarah McClain, 30, of Lakeview, said she received her Ventra card last week. She said she was able to activate the card but not register it because she didn’t receive the Ventra email. Megan Brady, 32, of Old Irving Park, was in a similar situation.
“You can't do anything with the card without the super secret email code,” Brady wrote to Going Public. “Don't have three hours to wait on hold; they won't respond to e-mail.”
In order to get the username information, riders called Ventra’s customer service number, 877-669-8368. Problem is, that number was indundated with more than 10,400 calls Monday, the first transition deadline for Ventra, the CTA’s new fare payment system.
On Monday, Chicago Card users were no longer allowed to add money to their cards while rail stations no longer sold disposable magnetic stripe cards. Chicago Card Plus accounts will autoload money until Nov. 15, the CTA said.
Mondays are typically Ventra’s busiest call days, CTA spokeswoman Tammy Chase said. Going Public on Monday was disconnected by Ventra six times, and on the seventh call, got through after a 56-minute wait. (Ventra said the wait time would only be 19 minutes.)
“The call times that many customers are experiencing are unacceptable, and we apologize for the inconvenience," Chase said in an email. "The CTA recently directed the Ventra vendor to double its customer service staff to meet call demand, and we expect to see improvements shortly."
The CTA said riders could get their username information through the Ventra activation number, 888-824-8802, which had much shorter wait times, Chase said.
Meanwhile, on its Twitter feed, the CTA said after delays, Ventra had finished mailing out cards to Chicago Card users on Thursday. The goal for these mailings was mid-September. Riders are supposed to receive their cards in seven to 10 business days after the mailing.
The CTA said as of Monday, there were more than 953,000 Ventra accounts, and as of Friday, more than 11 million Ventra taps. The CTA said ventrachicago.com saw its highest rate of traffic Monday with more than 40,000 page views.
Ventra is replacing Chicago Cards on Nov. 15 and disposable magnetic cards Dec. 15.
Don’t be blue
The Active Transportation Alliance, a group devoted to improving walking and riding transit and bikes; the Avondale Neighborhood Association and the Addison Avondale Mural Garden are hosting a workshop Tuesday focusing on how to develop the Addison Blue Line station and surrounding area. The meeting will be from 6:30-7:30 p.m. at the mural garden at Addison Street and Avondale Avenue.
A weekly dispatch from a CTA station of note
This week: Kedzie Green Line
Inside the Kedzie stationhouse in East Garfield Park, there’s a nice view of the Chicago skyline. Unfortunately the view outside the station isn’t so nice. GP visited the station this weekend and there was garbage outside the auxiliary entrances. There’s vast green space by the station that isn’t being used for anything but dumping garbage.
Next up: Logan Square Blue Line
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