11/01/2013 02:02 pm ET

Transit Union: Put The Brakes On Ventra Rollout Until Glitches Get Sorted Out

Just stop it.

That's the gist of the message the local transit worker's union has for the Chicago Transit Authority regarding its rollout of the new Ventra payment service which has been marked by an array of glitches and customer complaints since it began in September.

“Don’t use the riding public as guinea pigs,’’ Amalgamated Transit Union Local 308 President Robert Kelly said according to the Sun-Times. During the Thursday news conference, Kelly called for the CTA to halt the Ventra rollout until officials could ensure it works properly.

“If you are not ready to go, 100 percent, foolproof, don’t institute it. You are only creating havoc and putting your employees and my members in harm’s way."

According to Kelly, CTA employees are being “verbally attacked daily by angry riders" frustrated by problems with the new fare payment system, the Tribune reports.

“But they are mad at the wrong person,’’ Kelly said. “CTA should stop (Ventra) now, pull back, until they can work out all the kinks.’’

A CTA spokesman disputed claims workers have been targeted by angry customers, Fox Chicago reports.

Among glitches that have drawn public ire since the rollout started are reports of the contactless Ventra cards -- as well as other credit cards in passengers' wallet -- being charged multiple times for the same fare.

Chicago Card and Chicago Card Plus users had a host of problems when replacement Ventra cards were mailed weeks after a crucial activation email was sent to customers. Consequently, the CTA is now paying almost a quarter million dollars for outbound courtesy calls intended to smooth the registration process.

Just Tuesday, a Ventra card reader at the Damen Blue Line stop in Wicker Park apparently malfunctioned causing this long line of commuters -- smack in the middle of the morning rush:

The CTA told media it had no plans to change the self-imposed deadlines of Nov. 15 -- when the agency stops selling magnetic strip cards and accepting Chicago Card Plus rides -- and Dec. 15 when the old magnetic strip cards become completely obsolete making Ventra the only accepted payment.



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