Much like Metabank, one of the CTA’s partners in the public-private partnership that created Ventra, Cubic Transportation Systems, a subsidiary of a defense contractor and wireless data technology firm selected to oversee the program has had its own problems in the past.
In a must-read piece, Jason Prechtel over at Gapers Block has detailed the long list of cities and projects that experienced problems when Cubic ran fare card systems in places like London, Atlanta, Los Angeles, Miami, Vancouver and elsewhere.
While Mayor Rahm Emanuel has both downplayed the problems and acknowledged the complaints, several alderman have called for an official hearing to demand explanations. Meanwhile, the CTA has announced a delay in the deadlines for fully transitioning to Ventra and proclaimed their refusal to pay Cubic until the issues are addressed.
In the face of public scrutiny, Cubic has ensured that these problems will be solved (though its boss "can't guess" when). However, what Cubic isn't telling Chicagoans is that the company has experienced all of Ventra's problems before... in the other smart card systems it has built for cities across the world.
Suffice it to say, it’s not a pretty list. Go take a look.