Smart Card Wars

With the election upon us, some candidates have decided that transit Smart Cards are an issue they can use to say “I’m the best candidate” by hitching their star to Ontario’s Presto card program.

The Star reports that the TTC will proceed with a tender for an Open Payment system later this year with the intent of a 2011 rollout.  Mayoral hopeful Rocco Rossi has his own scheme called “Presto Plus”.  Can the TTC actually commit to a new system with the current regime still in office?  Rossi’s campaign confirms that he would cancel the TTC’s scheme if he were to become mayor.

Metrolinx would love to see the TTC sign on to Presto, but many questions remain about just what Presto can do for a truly integrated transit system.

Smart Cards are yet another example of the way that transit technology wars in the GTA get in the way of solving fundamental transit problems.  The technology choice becomes more important than the service it provides.  Here are a few questions anyone with “the answer” should consider.

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