ROSELAND — The mayor backed CTA President Forrest Claypool's tough stance in response to the problematic rollout of the new Ventra fare system, but refused to label the situation a "debacle" Wednesday.
Mayor Rahm Emanuel referred to Claypool's insistence Tuesday that Ventra's corporate owner, Cubic Transportation Systems, would have to meet three requirements — better customer service, along with fare-card readers that work flawlessly and within 2½ seconds — before it begins receiving payments on the 12-year, $454 million contract.
"Forrest is holding Cubic accountable," Emanuel said at a news conference in Roseland. "They will not get a check until this works to the satisfaction of the customers."
Emanuel said that 55 percent of CTA riders have made the shift to Ventra, "but the fact is it's not working the way it needs to work."
The CTA has delayed the transition to the system until the problems are fixed.
But the mayor refused to label Ventra's rollout a "debacle," adding, "I'm pleased that Forrest Claypool is holding their feet to the fire."
The Ventra system, which allows riders to use wireless debit and credit cards to pay fares, has been troubled by poor performance, long waits on customer service calls and an awkward transition from the old Chicago Card and Chicago Card Plus.
Emanuel made the statement at a news conference trumpeting the expansion of a free mammography program at Roseland Community Hospital.