Presto! Pay Now, or Pay Later (Updated)

Updated July 8, 2011 at 10:00 am:

[Readers new to this item should read the original post, and then come back to the top of the item for the update.]

At the Commission meeting, I presented this deputation.

In the discussion that followed, it became clear that there are aspects of the deal between the TTC and Presto that the parties would prefer to hide from public view.  Some of the details are up to Metrolinx to release, not the TTC.

On the matter of the recapture of the provincial loan for the cost overrun on the project, TTC’s Chief General Manager Gary Webster explained that Metrolinx had agreed to “hold the TTC harmless”, to use the legal phrase, against extra costs beyond what fare collection now costs the system.  Apparently the payback of capital is very similar to the proposed arrangement with the proponent of the Open Payment system.

There would be no payment to Presto before savings in fare collection costs begin to accrue, although the detail on these payments remains to be worked out.  The intent is that the sum of the cost of Presto service and the loan repayment will not exceed current costs.

Questions remaining unanswered include:

  • If the load is to be repaid over 10 years, but if there has not been enough cumulative saving in fare collection costs by then, what happens with the outstanding debt?
  • Is Queen’s Park contributing anything additional to the Presto project, or is the entire cost overrun entirely on Toronto’s back?
  • How aggressively will the TTC have to migrate riders from the current system to Presto in order to generate the hoped-for savings?
  • What is the status of Presto on the bus system given that the report proposing the financing scheme does not mention buses at all?

During the debate, Chair Karen Stintz stated that any regional integration would not occur until after 2015, presumably when Presto was fully rolled out.  Indeed, it is not practical to restructure fares before the fare collection system can handle whatever new tariff is in place.  Again, this begs the question of the status of the bus fleet which handles a great deal of cross-border travel.

Commissioner Minnan-Wong, unsatisfied with the level of detail in the discussion, moved deferral of the item, but this was voted down with only him in favour.

A update report on the status of negotiations with Presto will come back to the Commission in October or November 2011.

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