Chicago Transit Authority bus (photo by Kelly Martin)
  • Chicago Transit Authority bus (photo by Kelly Martin)
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San Diego–based Cubic Corp's Transportation Systems, which specializes in fare-collection systems, installed the "Ventra" payment system in Chicago during 2013. But there were slipups and hiccups from the outset.

The Chicago Transit Authority calculates that between October and December 19, it had to provide 909,000 free bus rides and about 21,000 gratis rail rides because of Cubic equipment malfunctions, according to the Chicago Business Journal. The Chicago Transit System wants to be reimbursed $1.2 million.

But the Chicago transit system does concede that things have improved greatly in recent days.

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Comments

Dennis Jan. 2, 2014 @ 12:54 p.m.

Gee, I thought the government was responsible when software written by the private sector does not perform as promised.

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Don Bauder Jan. 2, 2014 @ 3:21 p.m.

Dennis: Are you thinking of some other fiasco -- like Obamacare? Best, Don Bauder

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Visduh Jan. 2, 2014 @ 2:40 p.m.

This sounds like old news recycled, in that Cubic got burned on some fare collection system many years ago (twenty or more years.) That one might have been for the Washington Metro system. And it may have happened to Cubic more than once already. You might think that the company would learn from previous messes, but that assumes institutional memory, something surprisingly absent in many places today.

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Don Bauder Jan. 2, 2014 @ 3:25 p.m.

Visduh: There have been problems in past transit fare systems installed by Cubic. I don't know whether it's lack of institutional memory or simply the fact that when you suddenly launch a system that involves hundreds of thousands and perhaps millions of people, a visitation by Murphy's Law is inevitable. Best, Don Bauder

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Visduh Jan. 2, 2014 @ 5:30 p.m.

Field testing of systems used to be mandatory. Now they just turn them on and see what happens. But in this case, the customer wanted the system to work perfectly from Day 1. Of course, a million bucks is small change in the big picture of the whole system. Cubic probably could have spread half that around in gratuities and incentives, and the Chi-town folks would have been satisfied. Let's not forget the city we're talking about.

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Don Bauder Jan. 3, 2014 @ 6:01 a.m.

Visduh: I have lived in two cities that were known for corruption but had very good transit systems: Chicago and Cleveland. It has always puzzled me a bit. Best, Don Bauder

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