CHICAGO (WLS) -- The Ventra app melted down on a day Metra rolled out a new fare structure.
As Metra's new fare changes took effect Thursday, the Ventra app to purchase tickets went down.
"I wish it were more of a surprise, as the app has been spotty for I think some time, so it's just unfortunate that they're pushing us to the app when they don't have it really stable," Metra rider Gretchen Madsen said.
As part of Metra's fare restructuring, the rail agency also took away any remaining ticket windows Thursday in an effort to push riders to use the Ventra app.
"Usually, if there's ever a malfunction with the Ventra app, they kind of just let it go so it's not like they're making you pull your cash out or anything," Metra rider Katey Knott said.
Frustrated riders commented on social media. Metra said they're aware of the issue and are working to resolve it.
"It is frustrating. We've done a lot of work to be ready for today, and it's frustrating that this technological problem comes up," Metra spokesperson Michael Gillis said. "We are just telling people the app is down, we are not requiring people to buy an extra ticket."
The problems continued into Thursday afternoon.
"Apparently it's still down," Metra rider Jackie Lynch said. "Oh good, I can get a while free day on Metra, thank you very much."
Meanwhile, starting Thursday, riders are paying a little more for their fares. The changes come as Metra faces lagging ridership since the pandemic.
"All of the fares are lower before COVID happened, so what we've done is we've eliminated the sort of promotional fares we had going on during COVID and we've lowered all the fares to before COVID happened so they're all lower than the pre-pandemic rates," Gillis said.
The new fares include fewer fare zones across the Metra system. Also a downtown to the suburbs ticket will cost three dollars and seventy five cents.
Plus, the 10-ride ticket has been eliminated and replaced with a five day pass.
"I know everybody needs to make a living, but it's an increase in pricing and it's a challenge," Metra rider Margaret Harrell said. "They want to get fares up, but I'm not sure they want to get ridership up. I'm not sure increasing the pricing is going to help them get ridership up."
Also a program that previously cut fares on the Rock Island and Metra Electric lines will end and will be replaced with a new program for low-income riders on all lines.
There is some good news for people who ride bikes. Metra is also installing new bike racks on its rail cars which can hold two to four bikes.
Metra said they don't know how long the Ventra app will be down, but said they have alerted their customers and conductors.
"They should be a little lenient today," Metra rider Robert Pettis said. "If there is a problem, you would think hopefully they get it fixed. Rush hour comes, you can't buy ticket, you have big problems.
Visit metra.com to see the full list of changes.
Meanwhile, a partnership among Cook County, Metra and RTA will expand reduced price transit access to riders in the Chicago area with low incomes.
All SNAP recipient household members living in Cook, DuPage, Kane, Lake and McHenry counties are eligible. For more information, visit fares.rtachicago.org.