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CTA Paid Another Company $245K To Make Ventra 'Courtesy Calls'

By Chuck Sudo in News on Oct 29, 2013 4:35PM

2013_3_26_ventra.jpg As CTA and Pace investigate how deep the latest problem regarding the Ventra transition, the Sun-Times reports CTA is throwing some serious coin at facilitating the switch from Chicago Cards to the new system.

The agency hired Omicron Technologies two weeks ago to make “courtesy calls” to Chicago Card and Chicago Card Plus customers who haven't activated their Ventra accounts. To date those calls by Omicron (dubbed “quality assurance” work) have cost CTA nearly $245,000.

CTA spokeswoman Tammy Chase told the Sun-Times the cost was “unforeseen” but because the agency is “under budget on some Ventra-related things, we had money to pay for this service and still remain within the overall [Ventra] project budget.’’ The cost of work falls just short of the $250,000 minimum requiring approval from CTA’s board, which didn’t know about the expense until the Sun-Times started calling members asking about it.

Chase said Omicron was hired because of their “expertise” in making annoying “courtesy calls” and their work frees up Cubic Transportation Systems (the company that manages Ventra) to “improve the call center and adding customer service reps — so we don’t have them doing this specialized, short-term task, too.”

If a search of the #ventrafail hashtag on Twitter is an indicator, Ventra continues to be an unwanted nuisance for many CTA riders. Now CTA has two companies pissing their riders off over the phone.

Both CTA and Pace are currently investigating how deep reports of multiple charges to riders’ Ventra accounts due to erratic card readers. Officials with CTA and Pace promise Cubic, which is working on software fixes to the problem, will be held accountable.