Thoughts on open paymentFirst of all, one will probably accuse me of having an agenda in this matter. There's no need to accuse - just use the search function. I have been a big supporter of the PRESTO card from its concept stages for various reasons which I've written about many times before. I don't see open payment (using an RFID-enabled debit card, credit card or a surrogate like a bank account-linked cell phone or a watch) as a competitor, as it fulfills the same goal - eliminating the need to carry tickets and transfers for multiple transit agencies. In fact, my dream is to see every transit entry-point in the GTHA have a hybrid reader that accepts both PRESTO and open payment cards. But, I do have some questions about open payment cards that need answering.
The pilot project in New York City and in New Jersey placed readers on buses running on specific routes and at specific subway and rail stations. However, there is no evidence that the ability to transfer from route to route was evaluated. On the MTA in New York, a Metrocard (their re-loadable smart card) user with a pay-as-you-go account can transfer from route to route and get a discount on the second leg, subject to the fare rules. This is the same for PRESTO and SmarTrip, the other cards I've used. However, the MTA / NJ Transit trial makes no mention of this ability. Is this because the ability to transfer was left out of the trial, or because the technology cannot accommodate this?
In other words, is open payment a way to replace tickets and transfers in addition to period passes or is it simply a new way to pay your initial fare?
If the answer is something other than "the first one" then I fear that we have not taken any steps forward - we've moved sideways at best.