‘We regret it deeply’: Ventra app’s creators accept blame as Metra questions fare collection meltdown

Cubic executives took full responsibility for the Feb. 1 meltdown of the Ventra fare-collection app at a Wednesday Metra board meeting.

The app, designed by Cubic, crashed the same day Metra rolled out new fares and zoning, with problems continuing into the next week, confusing riders and resulting in myriad fares not being collected.

“We fully understand how critical it is that our platform operates as seamlessly as possible for riders who rely on it every day,” Cubic General Manager Matt Newsome said. The implosion was “entirely a Cubic issue and we regret it deeply and apologize wholeheartedly to those it affected.”

“I am not looking at this discussion as a 'gotcha' as much as an opportunity for the members of the board to understand what occurred, how it occurred and what is happening to address the issue so our riders can be assured their experience with the app will be safe and reliable,” Chair Romayne Brown said.

She then indicated a slide with criticisms from riders via social media including “Metra your incompetence knows no bounds” and “Who's running this circus?”

The debut of a simpler, more convenient fare system for riders “blew up in our face,” said Hanover Park Mayor and Metra Director Rod Craig, who suggested the board consider hiring another vendor.

A “first failure of this magnitude, it's ‘shame on you.’ If it happens again, it's ‘shame on us,’” he said.

Despite preparing since April 2023, on Feb. 1 “as the morning peak approached and the volume of users steadily increased, the app began to slow down to the point where it was unresponsive,” Newsome said.

“The change to the app centered around the new fare structure, which was incredibly complex,” he said. Cubic conducted multiple rounds of testing prior to the launch but it failed to uncover any problems.

Since then, the company has improved the app and “stabilized its performance. We have also now set up a hyper-care team which monitors the app and its related systems during the morning and evening rush hours,” Newsome said.

Officials noted the app malfunctioned as the railroad strives to recover ridership after COVID-19 lows.

“You’re not the ones that have been hurt by this,” Director Melinda Bush of Grayslake said. “Metra has been damaged by this. You knew that the application was more complex. And to not have anticipated that — is something you are responsible for.”

Metra crews suspended collecting fares from Ventra customers during the glitch and officials were unsure as of Wednesday how much revenue had been lost.

However, Cubic’s contract requires Metra to be compensated in such situations, Executive Director Jim Derwinski said.

Director Joseph McMahon of Kane County asked how Cubic was resolving cases of Ventra customers being charged multiple times for one ticket.

Newsome said riders would be refunded and, in many cases, the extra charges had been dropped. Riders can also contact the call center at (877) 669-8368, and

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