CHICAGO

Ventra State Hearing: Strong Doubts Over CTA's Payment System Linger As Anti-Ventra Petition Grows

04/01/2013 03:13 pm ET

Amid fees, confusion and higher prices, Chicago Transit Authority customers have found little to like in the agency's new Ventra payment system.

Lawmakers gathered Monday for a state hearing to discuss the new payment system, where the Tribune reported "skepticism" was the dominant mood.

"It's interesting that most of the questions today are about the debit cards when we are in the transit business," state Rep. Deb Mell, told CTA president Forrest Claypool at the hearing, according to the Tribune.

Claypool admitted the CTA has "a lot of work to do to explain what Ventra is and isn't," while other lawmakers expressed outright doubt the Ventra MasterCard was negotiated with the consumer's best interest in mind.

Unhappy as lawmakers are skeptical, Ankit Patel, a CTA 'L' passenger for the past decade, is doing something about it.

DNAinfo Chicago reports the 33-year-old Ravenswood resident's enthusiasm for Ventra quickly soured after he learned of the litany of fees and charges, saying any new system should have "sufficient benefits to the users."

"Otherwise, don't introduce it because there is nothing that is broken,” Patel told DNA. “Here, the benefit of using a more advanced system is far outweighed by the little fees and charges that users are going to run into.

At press time, Patel's petition had more than 1,000 signatures, and was looking to pull in nearly 9,000 more. A few weeks ago, a suburban man successfully petitioned Google to change the appearance of the CTA's rail lines on its Maps application using the same Change.org platform as Patel.

CTA spokesman Brian Steele has defended the switch to Ventra, saying the current payment system was "approaching obsolescence." Steele also seemed to shoot down Patel's hopes Ventra might go away, telling DNA unpopular or not, the Ventra system is going to happen.

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