Ontario’s new smartcard fare card will eliminate the token hoarding that is currently besieging the TTC, councillors acknowledged yesterday, yet the region’s biggest transit network will be the last in the province to get it.
The province’s PRESTO card goes live
next week for the first 500 customers at two Oakville GO Stations.
Those passengers will also be able to initially swipe their way through
two turnstiles at Toronto’s Union Station, with a bigger rollout in
But Toronto passengers will likely have to wait until at
least 2012 or 2013 for pre-loaded smartcards because the Toronto
Transit Commission only gave PRESTO conditional approval last week,
joining GO Transit, Oakville, Mississauga, York Region, Durham Region
Brampton, Hamilton, Burlington – even Ottawa.
made a decision to go ahead in 2006 and TTC is making a decision in
2009 and so clearly that’s the reason why they’re last,” said David
Smith, director of program services at PRESTO, which is overseen by
provincially mandated regional transportation authority Metrolinx.
“We’re very pleased with that decision and we’ll work with them as hard
as we can to get them rolled out so that both the people who live in
the 905 who use the TTC and all the residents of Toronto can enjoy the
benefits of the PRESTO card.”
Since it announced a 25-cent fare
hike effective Jan. 3, the TTC has faced a run on tokens, forcing it to
first limit the number of tokens available to each customer and finally
spend $50,000 printing 10 million temporary tickets for December as its
token stores were depleted.
The TTC estimates it could lose $5-million from token hoarding.
Peter Milczyn (Etobicoke Lakeshore) said the whole debacle would have
been avoided if the TTC had a less archaic fare system.
smartcard system you could literally, practically overnight, change the
fares. The next day it would deduct a different amount from your fare
card. So there’d be no issue of hoarding tokens or anything else for
that matter,” he said. “We have a fare system that others back in the
‘70s started going to magnetic tickets and things like that and
probably since the ‘70s we’ve been somewhat behind.”
also offer the ability to load the card online, to pay with a credit
card, and to register the card in case of theft or loss.
Milczyn defended the TTC’s hesitancy to jump on board PRESTO. A report
to the commission last week outlined significant costs as a chief
concern. The province has agreed to bankroll $140-million of the
start-up costs, in addition to installing PRESTO readers at 12 subways
stations what will be part of a pilot.
But the report warned the true costs of implementation for the TTC could be as high as $417-million.
Councillor Joe Mihevc (St. Paul’s), vice chair of the TTC, said the commission has to tread carefully.
cannot make this something where the TTC loses money and we need to be
able to control certain pieces,” he said. “If we want to introduce fare
by distance or a discount for students or seniors or to offer off-peak
lower fares, we need to be able to set those rules. We can’t have a
third party set them for us.”
Mr. Mihevc said the costs meant implementing smartcard technology was not a priority for the TTC until recently.
have an integrated system whereby many of the buses and the streetcars
go right into subway stations, therefore not requiring transfers, and
our turnstile technology is pretty good and works just fine, it wasn’t
in need of replacement. It wasn’t something that was on the TTC’s
horizon” he said. “We had enough state of good repair issues to deal
with 10 years ago when public transit money was really tight. So we
decided our public transit system was working very fine, thank you very
much, we’ll consider this at a later date. Now it’s that later date.”