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The Daily Northwestern

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Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

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A week after ticketing meltdown, Metra still faces issues on Ventra app

Shun Graves/The Daily Northwestern
A northbound Union Pacific North Line train leaves Davis Street station in downtown Evanston on Thursday.

Metra continues to grapple with a trouble-laden Ventra app after a ticketing meltdown last week flummoxed riders on the same day the regional rail system unveiled a new fare structure.

The simplified structure, which also emphasizes buying passes via the mobile app, went into effect Feb. 1. The same day, the app crashed during the morning commute. On-and-off issues have continued throughout the week, including a slowdown early Thursday, Metra officials said.

“Tuesday and Wednesday were fine,” Metra spokeswoman Meg Thomas-Reile told The Daily. “We had little to no problems. This morning, we saw a slowdown. And why? I don’t know.”

Riders can purchase Metra tickets from train conductors, vending machines at stations and the mobile app. However, they can only purchase select multiple-ride passes on the Ventra app. And, unlike the Chicago Transit Authority and Pace, Metra does not accept a physical Ventra card.

The agency has continued to instruct conductors to allow passengers struggling with the glitchy app to ride anyway, Thomas-Reile said. Metra riders may continue to face issues with the app, she added, because the problem appears to stem from faulty computer programming.

“We continue to monitor the app’s performance to ensure ongoing availability to riders,” Ventra said in a statement Wednesday on X, formerly Twitter. “We apologize for any inconvenience these issues have caused.”

The issues arose amid a broader effort to simplify Metra’s fare structure. For riders in Evanston, a new four-zone system mostly means lower fares in both the Chicago and Wisconsin directions. Still, customers in more distant suburbs may pay more than they did previously.

Ventra’s operator, Cubic Transportation Systems, tested the app for customer loads before the new fare structure’s debut. The morning meltdown caught the agency by surprise, Thomas-Reile added.

“This is not how we want our customers’ experience to be with our system,” she said. “We’re not happy with this. That’s why you ask for testing.”

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