Do Ventra cards help?

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Do Ventra cards help?

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By Matt Wettig


When the CTA rolled out the new Ventra system this year, at first, I did not really think much of it.

Living close, I usually skateboard, bike, or walk to school. I save the CTA for getting to work. When I found out reduced fare cards were replaced with Ventra Cards, I assumed it would be nothing more than the slight inconvenience of registering a card to my name and syncing it with my bank account. I was completely wrong.

The first day I got the card, I was already having problems.  when my card was activated, somthing went wrong, causing the card to remain inactivated. This was not really much of a problem, when I found out, I just got a new one. That was strike one.

When I did get a working card, my problems did not end there.  When I went to scan my card to get on the train,  it would not scan.  I thought I had another malfunctioning card, and when I pulled out my wallet to use my normal train card, a CTA worker advised me, “Son, you may want to try that again. I see all these students going through here, and usually they have to scan their cards more than once to get it to work.”  Perplexed, I went at it again, scanning my card another 4 times before it actually worked. I was baffled. I thought the purpose of the Ventra system was to expedite people’s commutes, when in reality, it just about doubled mine. That was strike two.

Next came a silent threat, laying dormant like a ticking time bomb, until I checked my bank account.  The day I registered the card, I added $25 to my card. A week later, checking my bank account, I saw an additional $20 was missing. Mystified, I did a little digging to see that Ventra had helped themselves to five dollars a day from my account, on four separate days. I was outraged. The fact that this business could steal my hard-earned dollars left me hopeless. That was strike three.

I called Ventra and they resolved the issue for me, restoring the money to my bank account, but not until I spent an hour on the phone explaining what had happened, and being transferred from one office to the next.

A quick Google search revealed that I was not the only one having problems with my card. A CBS Chicago article found that Money Network, the company that runs the Ventra system has an F rating by the Better Business Bureau.

The article reports: “The BBB’s president and CEO, Steve Bernas, says Money Network received that lowest rating based on nearly 100 complaints in the last three years. One of the complaints said: ‘Money Network denied my dispute of obvious fraudulent charges to my debit card.’”

This honestly frightens me. If Ventra is a system that is here to stay, does that mean I will constantly be living in fear of Ventra dipping into my pocket to put on one of their faulty cards?  Only time will tell, and hopefully there will be some reform in the way they operate.

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