Good news, CTA riders, you can stop worrying about hurrying to transition to Ventra, the CTA's new fare payment system. The CTA'a announcement Wednesday that it has brought back options for users of the old fare card system has bought you some time.
CTA President Forrest Claypool said Ventra is tripling its customer service call center to 300 workers but that may take "several weeks" because the employees have to be trained. Riders should give the CTA some time to do that before switching to Ventra.
The agency also is resending 110,000 e-mails with username information for registration to Chicago Card users, some of whom may have been concerned they lost or never received this e-mail.
For those Chicago Card users who haven't received their Ventra cards, the CTA said last week it finished mailing out these cards. The mailings are supposed to take seven to 10 business days.
Stop incessantly checking the mailbox to see if yours has arrived. There's no longer a rush to transition.
The CTA will still accept Chicago Card and Chicago Card Plus through Nov. 14 and disposable magnetic cards through Dec. 14.
Wednesday's announcement means riders can still buy disposable cards in stations and load Chicago Card with money in stations while Ventra works out its customer service issues. Chicago Card Plus will continue to autoload through Nov. 14.
My advice: Riders should wait until the CTA has worked out these kinks before they move to Ventra.
For riders who have already transitioned, there's no turning back now. At least if you have a problem now, you have a chance that your customer service call will now be answered after less than an hour wait, as some have reported.
Tracy Swartz is RedEye's CTA reporter.