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The Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) announced it will begin phasing in a new fare payment system for select CTA and Pace riders on Aug. 5.The Ventra payment system will be available for use by all CTA and Pace riders on Sept. 9."We're eager to educate all of our customers about the benefits of Ventra, which will replace an outdated, nearly 20-year-old system with a modern, efficient one that will allow faster boarding, account management and balance protection when the card is registered," said CTA President Forrest Claypool in a press release.The system was designed by Cubic Transportation Systems, which obtained the contract to develop it in 2011.Meanwhile, CTA officials announced that employee absenteeism rates dropped "dramatically" in 2012 and 2013 due to initiatives aimed at reducing unnecessary time off.Through 2013's first half, the average, agency-wide absenteeism rate was 5.5 percent compared with 6.4 percent in all of 2012, CTA officials said. So far this year, the agency has recorded 72,024 days of work absences compared with 77,150 in first-half 2012 and 88,320 in first-half 2011."We have taken a number of steps to ensure that we keep absenteeism down, which saves the agency money and ultimately helps us provide the best possible service to CTA customers," said Claypool.
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