Tuesday, July 8, 2014

WBEZ: CTA overcharges kids to get to summer school, job programs

WBEZ/Linda Lutton
As often stated I don't have children yet. It would be unacceptable that CTA and CPS hadn't adequately einsured that students still get reduced fare to get back and forth between home and their schools. Especially during the summer session as indicated in this recent article.
In what appears to be another stumble in the city’s transition to the new Ventra fare-collection system, thousands of young Chicagoans are paying more in train and bus fares than they should be this summer.

Typically, students under age 20 going to summer school or jobs programs would pay reduced CTA fares—currently $0.75 per ride and $0.15 for a transfer.

But many have gotten a rude awakening this summer when they’ve used their student cards on buses or trains.

“I swiped it, and I had (added) a dollar. Usually a dollar is good for me to get over here, but it said ‘insufficient fares,’said student Cesar Fierro in the hallway of his high school, Noble Street College Prep. Fierro rides on a student Ventra card he purchased at school.

He’s been paying $4.50, every day, to get to and from summer school—if he has the money.

“Like yesterday I had to walk all the way home,” said Fierro. That’s a 4.5-mile hike, from Augusta and Milwaukee to Fullerton and Kostner.
 And while school officials attempt to solve this issue, they seem to get the runaround:
School staff at Noble Street say they’ve “easily” spent 10 hours on the phone over the last two weeks trying to get reduced fares for summer school students— “calling back and forth to Ventra, being sent to CTA, the CTA saying, ‘Go back to Ventra.’ It seems to be a very confusing time for the companies as well as the schools,” said Noble Street administrative assistant Nicole Baily.
...
CTA spokeswoman Lambrini Lukidis says that’s because reduced fares are for students enrolled in an educational program, not for all youth. “If you're enrolled in the regular fall term, once that term finishes, the entitlement on the Ventra card is turned off automatically,” said Lukidis.

For students to get reduced fares during summer, schools must submit each student's individual transit card ID number to the CTA (or to one of Ventra's subcontractors). Lukidis says the transit agency has been working since spring with schools to prepare for the summer session. She says 5,500 Chicago Public Schools students and 9,500 students from charters and private schools are already receiving the reduced fare.

“So we have mechanisms in place for this to work successfully, and it has,” says Lukidis. She blamed Noble Street's problems on a "miscommunication on how to activate and get all of those entitlements processed."
Well at least there's an explanation, not to keep this from happening again!

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