The Spark

“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.” — Karl Marx

Chicago Transit Card Train Wreck

Oct 14, 2013

The Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) had one system that worked consistently: paycards that you could buy and load with money at the stations, or link to a bank account. So of course, that’s the part they decided to re-do, with a huge handout to private contractors. They gave a 454-million-dollar contract to the Cubic Corporation, a major defense contractor, to come up with a new “Ventra” system that can also work as a pre-paid debit card. And MasterCard will handle the payment processing and get a big cut of all the fees.

Even if the system worked, this would screw working people – a single-ride Ventra Card costs $3, instead of $2.25 before. Supposedly fares haven’t gone up – but you have to buy the card for 50 cents, and pay for a transfer whether you need it or not!

On top of that, the Ventra changeover was a train wreck. Many people didn’t get a card in the mail that they ordered, while others got mailed hundreds of cards at once! Some riders got a card but no activation password. And if you tried to call for help, the wait on hold was up to an hour long! Meanwhile, people had to get to their jobs....

The CTA says it has no money for their workers or to provide decent service. But they have millions to waste breaking their only efficient system, all so they can give more corporate handouts.