Archive for the ‘Presto’ Category

Presto Piss?

Sunday, January 22nd, 2017

Could there be a new revenue stream (pardon the pun) for Presto in pay toilets?

In Istanbul Turkey, the washrooms on the public transit system cost 1 Turkish Lira (about 33 cents Canadian) to use. As a matter of convenience, the turnstiles at the entry to the washrooms allows one to tap their Istanbulkart - their Presto-like stored value fare card, to pay the fare to use the washroom…

Washroom at Soğanlık Metro Station on M4 line

Even on the London Underground (see below), where it costs 20p to use the washroom (also about 33 cents Canadian), the turnstiles only accept 10p and 20p coins. No Oyster Card tap to use the loo!

Washroom at Wimbledon station on District Line

Presto’s New Site Falls Short

Wednesday, July 3rd, 2013

How is everyone liking the new Presto site?

It is nice that you can have a user ID so you don’t have to enter your card number to log in. Though, I should say that you MUST now have a user ID, and the process to set it up if you were have a card from before is not exactly straight-forward. The process involves you typing in your card number more than once, along with the three digit code (like the CVV on a credit card) and your old online PIN. Each time, it will not like something about one of those, but when you type it again, it will be happy about it, but have a problem with one of the other two and make you do it all over again. Even though you enter everything the same each time (I assured this for myself by typing the numbers in a text editor, then using copy/paste to fill in the Presto form!), it will eventually take everything. (more…)

Presto’s Knowledge of Where You Are

Wednesday, December 19th, 2012

Updated December 19. 

It is possible to have and use a Presto card without registering it, but there are a number of benefits to registration. For one, if your card is lost or stolen, you can get its balance transferred to a new card, and for another, you are entitled to the Transit Tax Credit provided you use it for at least 32 fares with one transit operator in a calendar month (something only available with monthly passes or with four or more consecutive weekly passes!).

I recently came across someone who uses an unregistered card and always adds value using cash at a GO station. His reason: he doesn’t want his movements to be “tracked”. This is not a discussion on privacy issues and such, though I will say that there is not a staff of people creating files on each Presto user, or any for that matter. We can’t afford to do it, and nobody is that important. If you are nearly that important, then you will have paparazzi following you around and they will be disclosing your movements far sooner than Presto’s back end database gets updated. From my experience, Presto’s back end is usually updated overnight, but frequently requires a second overnight period to capture everything.

To be sure, a subpoena could be issued that would force Presto to reveal a user’s transaction history, but don’t forget that this can work in favour of the user by providing an alibi. For instance, I can prove that I was at Finch Station on December 11 at 10:07 a.m. - well, at least I can prove that my Presto card was there.

The accuracy of that tracking works well when a card is tapped at a TTC subway station or a VIVAstation, but not so accurate when one taps on a moving vehicle. I would have thought that Presto terminals on board buses would somehow be tied to the GPS system that makes the stop announcement system function. It isn’t, and if Presto’s ability to know where the bus is were used to announce stops, people would be in an uproar. That is, if they were on a bus where the announcement system is set loud enough to hear. To be fair, I suspect that some YRT operators turn down the volume to avoid the waterboard torture-like effects of a system that announces the road you are on over and over again (i.e.: a bus travelling on Yonge has each and every stop announcement end in “at Yonge” or “on Yonge”), but I digress.

If you board a bus that has been sitting in one location for a while, such as at a route terminus, there is a very good chance that the transaction record will correctly show the stop where you tapped. Otherwise, it will show you boarding either several stops before where you actually boarded, or perhaps even several stops after you have boarded. I have seen records showing that I tapped on at the stop that I actually exited.

Better accuracy probably isn’t necessary, most of the time. What if you board a bus that crosses a zone boundary? Only YRT has fare zones, so this does not apply to other GTHA systems. (more…)

First Problem with Presto

Monday, January 16th, 2012

I have read of some problems that people have had with Presto and, for the most part, they mainly had to do with applying for and activating the card online. I am also aware of an issue when tapping onto a vehicle when another RFID card is near the Presto card, such as a credit card equipped with this technology. Until now, I have never run into a real problem.

All that changed last week when my daughter returned to school after the break. We didn’t think to check her Presto balance until the evening of Sunday January 8. At that time, it was $2.90 and I did a $20 I-POS transfer, knowing it would take about 24 hours to get to her card. With the continuing strike at YRT, she would be getting a ride to school in the morning and wouldn’t need to use the card until the afternoon. The new ticket price for student fare is $2.10, so there would be enough to cover her until the e-purse load occurs.

At the end of Monday January 9, her e-purse balance was $0.80, still awaiting the $20 load. She did not need to use transit until Wednesday afternoon and boarded as usual. The bus she boarded had a non-working Presto terminal, so there was no need to top on. Her next use of transit was not until Friday after school, when she again tapped on without her nor the operator noticing an error, though one of her friends indicated she thought she saw a red light on the terminal. She needed a second fare a few hours later on Friday and when she tapped on, the operator indicated that there were insufficient funds on the Presto card, so she had to pay the cash fare of $3.50.

Looking at her card online Friday evening, it only showed a balance of $0.80 and the transaction from the Monday that brought it down to that balance. I called Presto’s customer service line and they could see that the card went into a negative balance and could see the load but could offer no explanation as to why the load was not there by the Wednesday. They also could not do anything about bringing it “out of a negative balance” over the phone, and that I would have to either go to a GO station or a transit operator’s customer service office.

This will cost me $2.80 (plus my time), and since I have my daughter’s Presto card, she is using my wife’s card to get to school, which will charge us $0.70 more than necessary (adult ticket/Presto fare is $2.80 and student ticket/Presto fare is $2.10).

Will they be able to restore her Presto card balance and reimburse today’s costs plus the extra amount paid on Friday ($1.40 - $3.50 cash fare was paid instead of $2.10)?

Stay tuned…

Update at 10:45 am: I am reasonably happy with the results of this, but that may only be because my daughter received a “free” trip last week. I do have some new understanding into the workings of Presto.

When there is not enough balance on the card when it is tapped, one of two things will occur. If your card is not registered, it will be denied. If your card is registered, it will be allowed to enter into having a negative balance. I suspect this occurred with my daughter tapped on the first trip on Friday. The terminal probably did display a red light, but the operator likely did not receive a message that the fare was invalid.

When this occurs, the card is locked. At this point, nothing can be done with the card until the negative balance plus a 25 cent service charge is paid. This can only be done at a GO station or at a transit operator’s customer service centre. This wasn’t totally made clear by the Presto representative I spoke with on Friday. They did say that the card could only be unlocked, but mentioned nothing about what was needed. It doesn’t matter if there is a new balance to be loaded onto the card, because it can’t be loaded while the card is locked. Ergo, that balance cannot be used to pay what is needed to unlock the card. Oddly, in looking at the transactions on my daughter’s card, there is no transaction that deducted $2.10 from the balance of $0.80. There were two attempts to load the $20.00 when it was locked, so the balance remained at -$1.10. Why it wasn’t -$1.30 is a mystery.

I was hoping to leave YRT’s office with a $19.40 balance on my daughter’s card, which was $20 less the trips she took last week, plus the costs of all this mess. I had to pay $1.35 ($1.10 negative balance plus $0.25 service charge) to get the card unlocked, leaving it’s balance at zero. The load would not take place until a balance check was done on the card, though why they could not perform that operation at the YRT office is another mystery. If one goes there to pay and add a balance on the card, it is loaded immediately. I suspect there is a way the office can do a balance check, but lack of training prevents them from doing so. Since Richmond Hill Centre terminal is a five minute walk from the offices, I immediately went there to perform a balance check. The balance now showed $20. Given that I had to pay $1.35, the net effect is $18.65.

Presto and Those Other RFID Cards

Tuesday, August 16th, 2011

August 16 update: Rhonda DeBaeremaeker, YRT Customer Service Coordinator responded with the following, confirming the problem:

This issue was recently identified by staff and a memo has been distributed to all Operators informing them a defect has been identified with the Driver’s Control Unit which occurs when the customer has their card in their wallet.  Certain other credit/debit cards are affecting the Presto card.  The cards work properly on the BRT FTP (devices at Viva stops) and on the BFTP (device they tap on the bus) but for some reason the driver will see a “READ ERROR” in red on their display, when there is interference from another card.  The drivers have been instructed to request the customer to take their card out of their wallet and tap again.  This should result in “Already Tapped” message to the customer and “Antipass Back” message to the driver.  If this message comes up, then the 1st tap was a successful transaction. 

The original post continues after the break.