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How fast is your Ventra tap? All CTA buses now upgraded to process payments faster

All CTA buses should now be outfitted with upgraded software that allows Ventra card fare payment “taps” to register a “go” in 2.5 seconds or less, CTA officials said Wednesday.

Some 60 percent of the bus fleet was missing such software last week and thus was omitted from the CTA’s second Ventra performance update.

That means the data the CTA shared with the media on “tap” times and “up” times of Ventra vending machines and readers only covered 40 percent of the bus fleet.

That’s because the CTA’s Ventra vendor, Cubic Transportation Systems, would only give the CTA data on upgraded bus readers, CTA officials said. To provide complete data on the entire fleet would have be too time consuming, they said.

However, now that all buses have been upgraded, “tap” time and “up” time data on the entire bus fleet is expected to be included in this week’s performance update.

CTA spokesman Brian Steele defined “up” time as the percent of time over a 24-hour period that a Ventra vending machine or reader is not reported as not working by a CTA employee.

The new upgrades should allow readers on all buses to spit out a “go” within 2.5 seconds of a payment “tap,” Steele said. That should prevent the double charges the CTA was seeing from riders who were so frustrated or confused by processing times that they tapped readers more than once, he said.

CTA President Forrest Claypool had said that the bus reader upgrades would be completed last week, but they actually were not finished until this Tuesday, officials said.

More than 3 months into Ventra’s rollout, Claypool has refused to pay Cubic until 99 percent of taps register within 2.5 seconds, vending machines and readers are working 99 percent of the time ,and calls to the Ventra hotline are answered within 5 minutes.