The Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) has been taking heat from the press and community activists over its new Ventra card which combines the functions of a fare card with those of a general purpose reloadable card. Much of the reporting stems from an early version of a contract between the CTA and its vendors that has since been changed to eliminate several fees.
The Tribune reported Wednesday that the new Ventra card is “rife with fees,” including a $10-an-hour research fee to explore consumer complaints about mischarges.
But CTA spokeswoman Tammy Chase emphasized those fees are comparable to others in the credit-card industry and only kick in if a customer chooses to activate a Ventra card as a prepaid debit card.
The CTA is struggling with negative publicity about its cards because of the fees and analysis that makes it seem as though the card will be expensive for the average user. However, the cost of the Ventra card depends on how it is used, just like any other financial services product. The CTA plans to begin outreach and education around the card, and the effectiveness of that will go a long way to determining whether the card survives in its current form. While the product is not fundamentally flawed, CTA still needs to help potential users understand the product and its value.