Ventra triples customer service reps

The CTA said there will be 300 Ventra call center reps Friday. (October 31, 2013)

Ventra will triple the number of representatives answering phones at its call center to 300 starting Friday, filling a directive from the CTA to improve customer service.

The CTA voided an early October transition deadline to stop disposable card sales in rail stations and Chicago Card refills because of customer service problems. Riders complained of long call waits and hang-ups on Ventra's customer service line, (877) 669-8368.

CTA President Forrest Claypool directed to Cubic, its contractor for the new Ventra fare payment system, in early October to triple its representatives from 100 to 300. At the time, Claypool said it would take "several weeks" to train new representatives.

Meanwhile, Ventra callers have reported being asked to leave their information with an operator for a call back instead of speaking to a live representative at the time of the call.

"When there is a spike in calls, operators are taking information so the appropriate representative can call them back," CTA spokeswoman Tammy Chase said in an e-mail. "This effort is done as a courtesy so customers can avoid being placed on long holds."

RedEye called the Ventra customer service line Thursday evening and waited on hold for 27 minutes before a representative came on to answer questions.

The November and December Ventra transition deadlines remain. Ventra will replace all Chicago Cards Nov. 15 and disposable magnetic stripe cards Dec. 15.