Monday, June 25, 2007

One-fare transit test launched - Toronto Star

One-fare transit test launched
June 25, 2007
Tess Kalinowski
Staff Reporter

No more change, no more tickets and transfers.

Transportation officials are promising that the new green Presto fare smart card being rolled out in a test next month will revolutionize public transit in the Toronto region. Presto will be launched on Mississauga Transit, GO and the TTC, starting in mid-July, allowing riders to move across the three systems with only one fare card.

"We're making public transit as seamless and convenient as possible," said Transportation Minister Donna Cansfield today at the Cooksville GO station in Mississauga.

The plastic wallet-sized cards are embedded with a computer chip that deducts the value of a transit fare when it is tapped or held close to an electronic reader. The readers show riders who much has been deducted from their card and the balance they have remaining.

When the user's "e-purse" is empty, the transit rider needs only top up the amount at a sales kiosk or online.

Users will be able to register their card for replacement if it is lost or stolen.

Mississauga Transit will begin tomorrow recruiting about 500 regular riders on the Cooksville and Meadowvale shuttle buses, who transfer to GO and the TTC, to test the card and help work out any bugs.

By 2010 the card should be available from Hamilton to Durham Region. The TTC is the only area transit authority that still hasn't officially signed on to the project.
Don't take the "no more transfers" literally. You will still be allowed to transfer from vehicle to vehicle for free, only you will need to swipe the Presto Card instead of getting into a dispute with the driver over the validity of the transfer. I've been advocating for this type of project for a long time, mainly because:
  • It will reduce fare evasion and counterfeiting, because its very difficult to hack a stored value card when the information is stored on a central database.
  • It will save trees, as tickets and transfers will be taken out of circulation.
  • It will reduce fare disputes, as the fare payment will be done automatically.
  • It will reduce confusion, especially in cases where riders use more than one system.
  • It doesn't have to be limited to transit. It can facilitate convenience store and food purchases.
Although I am happy to see the fare card moving forward, I do have two problems. Firstly, the time-frame that the TTC wants to operate on is unacceptable. Chair Adam Giambrone was quoted as saying not until 2015 or 2017. I may never say this again, but the province needs to play hardball and bring the TTC on-board sooner.

Finally, I'm still unsure about the name "Presto." I might warm up to it, but the name "Metropass" seems to be working fine...

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At 6/25/2007 7:00 p.m. , Blogger Paul Hillsdon said...

I think the Presto name is kinda cool. It's disappointing though that TO couldn't come up with another word starting with "O" for their card ;) I mean, they could've called it Orangutan, Ostrich, Owl, Otter, or Okapi! But hey, at least you are years ahead of having a smartcard then us out in Vancouver. Our transit authority has been talking about such a system for a decade and even recently completed another implementation report, but refuses to fund the project. Argh.


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