Cubic Corporation and Cubic Transportation Systems, Inc. are the defendants in a proposed class action filed in Illinois circuit court by a consumer who alleges the companies have created and imposed made-up, single-ride fees for which those who hold expired unlimited-ride passes are wrongfully charged.
The defendants operate the Ventra card system used by the Chicago Transportation Authority (CTA) and Pace Suburban Bus and Paratransit to collect fares, the case explains. Through this system, riders may purchase "unlimited-ride passes" that are valid for one, three, seven, or 30 days—an option the suit notes is often cheaper than paying multiple single-ride fares.
The lawsuit centers on consumers who attempted to use their expired unlimited-ride Ventra cards that lacked funds to cover the cost of a particular ride. According to the plaintiff, those who scanned their expired cards at one of the defendants’ machines were charged a fee without their knowledge or consent that amounted to more than the cost of a single ride. Despite incurring this undisclosed fee, proposed class members were nonetheless denied authorization to ride CTA public transit, the lawsuit claims.
Notably, the suit points out that the defendants expect customers to keep track of their passes' expirations and offer no warning system that would allow riders to avoid the allegedly undisclosed fees. As explained in the complaint:
“Because unlimited-ride passes, such as 30-day passes, provide unlimited rides for an extended period of time, these passes, by nature, do not compel riders to track exactly when the passes expire; nor do [the defendants] build in any safeguards to prevent or warn against any attempts to ride with a Ventra card that has an expired unlimited-ride pass and lacks funds for a ride."
The lawsuit argues that this alleged practice of imposing undisclosed "fantasy debts" on customers' Ventra cards allows the defendants to "collect more money and profits for the ride, and to pad [their] pockets.” Moreover, the case points out that the alleged fee charges are not labeled and are generally not easy for riders to notice.
Further still, the suit claims the defendants sometimes double-charge those who have paid-for unlimited-ride passes, charging an undisclosed fee in order to use a valid card.