Archive for the ‘Fares and Fare Structures’ 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 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…)

A Warning to Presto Users on YRT

Wednesday, May 30th, 2012

May 30 update: I replied to the response from YRT by saying that as a Presto user that occasionally needs to use a TTC contracted route, I should be entitled to a $2.80 fare on those occasions (an not the $3.50 cash fare) and should not have to spend $28 to purchase ten tickets all at once. Ashley P.’s reply to this was:

We appreciate you taking the time to offer your feedback.

Although we regret the inconvenience, we will continue to advise TTC riders not to use PRESTO until TTC has it fully implemented.

To this, I had to ask where one could purchase single tickets for $2.80, to which the reply was:

You can purchase a pack of 10 adult tickets for $28.00.  They are sold at multiride fare machines located at YRT bus terminals, or you can purchase them at any of our fare media agents.  Follow this link to search for fare media agent locations near you: 

My final reply was to tell them that I have found a place where I can purchase single tickets for $3.00 each. If anyone is interested in purchasing less than 10 tickets at a time, send me an email and I will provide the details. The original posting continues after the break. (more…)

Small Regular Fare Increases

Monday, August 22nd, 2011

In a posting last week, Steve Munro opines that, “the TTC is hurt by the absence of small, regular fare increases to cover, at least in part, its increasing costs.”

I agree that fares should at least increase with inflation. Small increases have little to no effect on ridership, but holding fares the same puts more pressure on those fares as costs rise and eventually a nasty jump in fares is needed that has a drastic effect on ridership.

In yesterday’s Toronto Star, columnist Heather Mallick speaks against this idea claiming a hike is like “poison for the poor”.

Mallick must not be a frequent user of the TTC, as she tries to make the case that the working poor are paying the $3 cash fare to get to and from work each day instead of purchasing 10 tokens for $25 once per week. She claims that coming up with $25 to purchase tokens ten at a time can be a hardship for the working poor, but this is really a personal planning issue. She claims that a 10 cent fare increase adds up to a dollar per week that the working poor don’t have, while making the claim that the poor must be already spending $5 per week by paying cash fares.

I say she must not be a frequent user of the TTC because, unlike other GTHA transit agencies, the TTC does not make its riders purchase TEN tokens in order to be able to get on board for $2.50 instead of $3.00. Every location where tokens are sold will sell five for $12.50. In addition to this, some subway stations have token machines that will sell you 4 for $10 or 8 for $20. Granted, these machines do not accept five dollar bills, but many stations will sell you tokens in 4 and 8 quantities from the collector booth, even though those quantities do not appear on the “official” fare chart. I know from personal experience that tokens are sold in 4 and 8 in addition to 5 and 10 quantities at Don Mills station. The collector booth has a hand-written sign indicating the 4 for $10 and 8 for $20 availability.

Is purchasing $10 of tokens every two days that much of a hardship for someone needing to carry $6 each day?

Incidently, for those using a transit agency other than the TTC that now accepts Presto, it is now easy to add $10 to the card balance at a time online, instead of having to go out and purchase 10 tickets at a time.

Mallick also holds the point of view that transit should be free because it has a social value. I agree that it has a social value, but is that a reason for it to be free? I argue that things that are ‘free’ (meaning that you don’t pay as you use it, but through general taxes) are too easily taken for granted. So much so, that when budgets are tough, cuts are made far too easily by those in charge and the public does not get mobilized against those cuts until it is too late. When the public must pay something for a service, there is an inherent interest in making sure it continues. When cuts are being considered, well before they are a done deal and often when they are just trial balloons, people get motivated and take action. How much of the cost should be paid by the user versus covered by general taxes is a whole other debate, but zero fares leads to zero concern for preservation of service.

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.