Metra announced that on June 20 monthly passes and 10-ride tickets will no longer be available at 15 non-downtown stations on the Electric Line, including Homewood and Flossmoor, due to a surge in fraudulent purchases being made from those machines.
The Metra Electric is the only line in the railway’s system that has vending machines instead of ticket agents at outlying stations. The stations were built without ticket agent spaces by Illinois Central before Metra purchased the line in 1987.
In recent months, there has been an increase in the number of tickets being purchased with stolen credit cards from those unattended machines. The fraudulent purchases costs Metra because it is responsible for the charges and because it is losing legitimate sales to customers who are buying the fraudulently purchased tickets.
The vending machines will continue to sell one-way tickets, and customers can buy monthly passes and 10-ride tickets from agents or machines at the five downtown stations. Customers can also purchase those tickets using the Ventra App on their mobile devices.
If customers traveling downtown from an outlying station want to buy a monthly pass or a 10-ride ticket, they can first buy a one-way ticket with a credit card at the outlying station or with cash on the train and then apply its value toward the purchase of a monthly or 10-ride from an agent once they arrive downtown.
“We are sorry we need to take this step and inconvenience our customers, but we hope they understand that we are trying to eliminate a practice that is costing us money,” Metra CEO/Executive Director Jim Derwinski said. “By removing these tickets from the vending machines, we are removing a reason why criminals come to our stations, thereby making the stations safer.”
Metra has already started the process of procuring new machines with more modern security features, and when that procurement is complete, it will assess whether to resume sales of monthly passes and 10-ride tickets at the Electric Line stations.