Updated December 29, 2013 at 11:30 am:
The TTC meeting presentation on Presto and my comments on it have been added, and the updates related to this topic have been reorganized to follow in chronological sequence.
Original Article from December 15, 2013:
The TTC will meet on December 19 to close out 2013, the last year before the municipal election of 2014. Regular board meetings are planned through August 2014, but then there will be a break until the first meeting of the new Commmission in December 2014.
The agenda has a few items of note, and continues the policy-light pattern of recent years. This does not make for extensive discussion of what transit’s goals may be beyond ensuring that stations are tidy.
Presto Fare Card Implementation
(The following text was added on December 29, 2013.)
The staff presentation to the Board Meeting is included in the online agenda, but the pages are rotated 90 degrees. As an aid to readers, I have created a reoriented copy on this site.
The agreement between the TTC and Metrolinx for Presto implementation is signed and most of it is online. Significant by its absence is the detailed rollout plan which, as explained elsewhere in this article, is under the TTC’s control according to Metrolinx. To put this another way, there is an agreed plan for at least part of the rollout, but we don’t know exactly what it is, and more importantly, when TTC management signed off on an extended, two-wave rollout.
Originally, Presto was to be “substantially complete” for the Pan Am Games, but now it will only be available to serve trips to and from the primary games venues. As I have noted before, this presumes that there is a small number of routes visitors to Toronto will use to reach each venue. Riders may find themselves on a system still operating in hybrid mode with a mix of farecards, receipts and paper transfers. Their Presto cards will be useless if they begin trips on any route where they cannot obtain a Presto fare receipt. Even if their hotel is at a Presto subway station, they may choose to visit a location served only by non-Presto surface routes thereby complicating their return journeys.
At full rollout, riders will “tap and go”, but in the interim, Presto users will also have to obtain a fare receipt that can be used as a transfer for non-Presto routes or locations. Major stops will have curbside Presto readers so that riders can “pre tap” at the beginning of their journeys. There will be no need to “tap out” when leaving a vehicle unless the TTC implements fare-by-distance, a move that would put it at odds with other GTHA carriers who have, at most, a rudimentary zone system.
The policy for “tap in” at transfer points has not been specified yet by the TTC, although it would obviously be required at any location with a fare barrier. Tapping at every transfer would require a major investment for existing free transfer locations between surface and subway routes, and could produce bottlenecks where none exist today.
The rollout will occur in two waves:
Wave 1 will begin with the new streetcar implementation in fall 2014 on Bathurst, Spadina, Harbourfront and Dundas. Yes, Presto is yet another scheduling issue if there were any more to change the LFLRV route rollout sequence because the on-street fare machines must be installed before a route can be converted. With this presentation, we see that the date is now “October/November” (page 9) and the implementation of new streetcars drifts ever further into the future.
Presto equipment will be installed at 23 key stations (a net addition of 9) on some but not all turnstiles, and we will see a new acronym added to the TTC for a “Station Fare Transaction Processor” (SFTP). The stations will be chosen based on their relationship to surface routes that have been converted to Presto.
Fare purchases would be handled as on GO Transit with options for auto-reload or manual “add fare” purchases at stations. The presentation made no mention of how riders who do not routinely travel through subway stations, or whose rides do not begin there, will deal with the need to load their cards while using the surface network.
Add Value Machines (AVMs) will only accept debit and credit payments, not cash which would still be handled in the conventional way. These machines will not be delivered and installed until late 2014 (page 11) and it is possible that this service will not be available to Presto users at initial rollout.
“Station Point of Sale” (SPOS) machines will only be available at the Customer Service Centre at Davisville, not in Collectors’ Booths. Collectors aka Station Agents will have a handheld device to query cards, but these will not be able to perform add value transactions.
Separate from Presto, the TTC will install ticket validators on streetcars and at busy transit stops. Riders with tickets (Seniors, Students, Children) will insert their ticket into the validator and it will imprint the date and time creating a fare receipt. Unless paper tickets are going to be much larger than today, how an Operator or Collector is supposed to eyeball a “validated” ticket at a non-Presto connection point is anyone’s guess.
Ticket validation and token fares at subway stations will continue to be handled by the Collectors and turnstiles, and passengers will take transfers as they do today.
A “Single Ride Vending Machine” (SRVM) will initially handle cash and tokens (debit and credit card payment will come in early 2015) on board vehicles and at major stops.
The layout of devices and illustrations of them appear on pages 13 and 15. The SRVM illustration shows it with a Presto reader although this is self-evidently not required because SRVMs are not intended to handle that type of transaction.
On the new streetcars, there will be only two ticket validators and SRVMs per car. This begs the obvious question of what a rider boarding a crowded vehicle by the “wrong” door is supposed to do to reach a machine and validate their fare. The problem will be even more acute when this system moves to vehicles that do not use all-door loading.
A further complication may well be the co-existence of the current fare and transfer rules that will make determination of when a “new” fare is required much more complex. The TTC has been dragging its feet on this debate, and a new policy such as time-based fares should have been in place for implementation in 2014 completely separate from the Presto rollout.
Needless to say, this is going to present a very complex fare collection environment to locals who will initially encounter a “foreign” fare collection system on a small number of routes. This will certainly be challenging to visitors. They may well marvel at how we have taken an antique, ticket and transfer based system and made it as complex as possible all in the name of hitting rollout dates that were obviously quite ambitious for the Presto system, not to mention TTC’s implementation.
There is yet to be any discussion of simply issuing a limited-time “Pan Am” version of the Metropass, and likely any such ideas will be squelched to avoid the well-deserved embarrassment this would cause for Presto.
The TTC acknowledges that the timelines for implementation are very tight and that there is little or no time to address problems or deficiencies in the new system. An alternative way to collect fares on the new streetcars may be needed as an interim step. I look forward to the return of roving conductors with “coffee pot” fareboxes.
How the TTC would have handled the LFLRV rollout if these vehicles had gone into service in 2013 as we once expected is a complete mystery. Queen’s Park forced Presto on the TTC which obligingly rolled over even though the then-available Presto system could not possibly handle TTC requirements. The “Next Generation” of Presto was, with great difficulty, rolled out in Ottawa and is finally supposed to be working, but it would not have been ready if the new streetcars had been here on time.
Wave 2 will be “everything else” followed shortly by a cutover to Presto as the primary mode for fare collection. The rollout schedule is “to be determined” and there neither a detailed rollout strategy nor a hard target date for completion of this wave.
Today, Presto supports only the adult token rate at 14 subway stations, and handles the paltry sum of 35,000 transactions per day (out of over 1.5-million trips).
Metrolinx will provide Presto services to the TTC in return for a flat fee of 5.25% of the revenue stream. There is a clear incentive for Presto to get more of the system working and riders converted to using their cards as soon as possible so that they can tap a greater proportion of the total TTC revenue. The TTC’s fare collection costs run at 7-8% today, and so this should be a net saving on operations. (1% of the total budget is about $16-million per year.) There has been no estimate of the saving, if any, in reduced fare fraud, nor the offsetting cost of policing a self-service fare system.
The capital cost of installation will be covered, to a total of roughly $450-million, by a project shared equally among all three levels of government.
No later than six months after full rollout on all vehicles and stations, all legacy fare media will be dropped and only cash will remain as an alternative to Presto. Use of the card may be expanded to other city services such as ferries, although an obvious additional one that has not been mentioned yet is parking charges.
The Station Collectors will become customer service agents roving through stations to provide assistance. This begs several questions about working conditions (non-AC, non-heated stations versus the existing booths) and the problem riders might have in finding an agent when one is needed.
Commissioner Josh Colle asked what has happened on “TTC front” with Presto since the last briefing? Chris Upfold (who is now head of Surface Operations) replied that the contract was signed on November 12. Specifications and procurement are in progress, as are the electrical upgrades at stations to support Presto devices. The plan is “set up for success”, a phrase that may well haunt the TTC in months to come.
Colle asked what is holding the TTC back, who sets the timelines? Upfold replied that Metrolinx is buying and installing the equipment. Colle wondered whether this is an overly cautious rollout? Upfold said that he went through the same project with London’s Oyster card. It is a massive project, and the quality needs to be there from day 1 to ensure acceptance. That remark begs obvious questions about the state of Presto.
Colle asked who owns the transaction data from Presto use on the TTC including its potential commercial value. Upfold replied that it is jointly owned with Metrolinx. As for commercial value, Upfold stated that no smart card system has managed to do this so far. The biggest value is understanding of trip profiles and origin-destination patters. Colle asked whether Presto would change the TTC’s budgeting practice. Upfold said, yes, it would, but budgets today are estimated within half a percent of actual. By implication, the real challenge will be to get a handle on the shifting revenue and expense situation as the TTC migrates from one system to the other and, possibly, also changes their fare policies.
Commissioner Peter Milczyn asked who the Presto equipment was from. Upfold replied that it is from a major German supplier, although the software is by Accenture, Presto’s contracted system provider. Allan Foster, who had given the presentation, said that the Toronto devices are already in use in Ottawa, and are now proven. Only small tweaks needed to the system. The SRVM is the only new machine for Toronto, but it is built from standard components. Milczyn asked about bugs in the Ottawa system. Upfold replied that Presto went with a faster rollout there and less testing, but that the system is now working “very well indeed”.
Milczyn asked about the rollout for articulated buses. Upfold replued that procurement has not been done yet for buses, and the critical part is getting SRVMs for streetcars.
Later in the meeting, Milczyn stated that the TTC was forced to accept a system that was out of date but would be updated, and that we are falling behind the schedule Metrolinx originally said it could meet.
Commissioner Nick Di Donato asked how concession fares will be handled? Upfold replied that in the future, all of this will be on Presto. Di Donato asked about the value on a Presto card be automatically topped up. Upfold replied that autoload exists today on the Presto system. He neglected to mention that the lack of AVMs for the initial rollout will make it almost mandatory that TTC Presto users set up their cards for autoload to avoid being trapped somewhere without a sufficient on-card balance.
Commissioner Glenn De Baeremaeker asked when Collectors will moved out of their booths. Upfold replied that this cannot happen until the full rollout and withdrawal of other fare media likely in late 2015 or early 2016. At larger stations, the TTC may still retain an information booth, and in any event they will not be “destaffing” stations. De Baeremaeker asked about staff helping riders at bus platforms. This question points out the obvious fact that there are only a limited number of collectors at stations, sometimes only one, and they cannot be everywhere. If they have any “mandated” functions such as assisting with bus loading, then they cannot do any of their other supposed duties. This constraint does not appear to be well understood nor well thought out.
Commission John Parker asked how Presto will be used on old vehicles such as the existing streetcar fleet. Upfold replied that passengers could pay cash (of course they also have access to ticket validators and other devices, but he missed this point). CEO Andy Byford said “we have a plan”.
Parker asked about concession fares. Allan Foster replied that provisions for concession fares already exists, but he did not explain how ad hoc trips by a Presto cardholder will be handled for, say, accompanying children.
Commissioner Maria Augimeri asked about payments with “smart” devices such as phones. Upfold replied that this is coming in Wave 2.
Chair Karen Stintz asked why the TTC had 4000 requirements for a device already in use. Foster replied that these cover TTC customer and business needs and technical requirements, and that the TTC had to include these in the ontract. Stintz asked how Toronto is so different from other Presto system users. Upfold replied that the TTC specified everything even if it was part of the standard offering. What he should have said is that the TTC needs to nail down its requirements so that there is no debate after the fact about non-performance of the contract given Presto’s less than stellar record and the much larger scale of TTC operations than anything they have handled before.
Stintz asked whether Presto will we be ready for “my commitment” that it would be in place for the Pan Am Games. Leaving aside the conflation of mayoral ambitions with personal “commitments” (the phrase “L’état, c’est moi” comes to mind), it is clear that this was the first Stintz had heard of an extended Presto implementation. Upfold replied that procurement for full rollout in the subway system does not start until the end of 2014, and that planned work for 2014 only includes the first 23 stations plus 50 new streetcars. Putting readers on buses would not be a “quick fix” because they would also have to issue fare receipts in place of transfers. Why operators could not do this just as they do for people who drop tokens in the farebox is unknown.
Andy Byford said that he is keen to get on as quickly as possible, but the TTC needs to take care to get the right balance right between holding Presto’s feet to fire and screwing up the implementation.
Stintz replied that she didn’t want to get into finger pointing, but she was not satisfied with the schedule — “this isn’t the agreement we made with province”. There will be a report with more information in January, but one might reasonably ask how such a major project has had such major schedule slippage without the Chair being aware that this was happening.
Clearly, the project is in trouble, and this is a shared TTC/Metrolinx responsibility. Unlike Ottawa, where unhappiness with the product produced contentious, public debates with Metrolinx, the situation in Toronto is more like TTC serfs who refuse to bite the hand that feeds them. Toronto riders and the transit system’s credibility will be the victims if Metrolinx is not held to account. Equally, the silence on fare policy and the absence of public discussions on how Presto will work at the detailed level are TTC matters. We have spent too much time talking about clean trains and stations, and not enough on the complex details of a new fare system.
Updated December 19, 2013 at 6:00 pm:
[This section partly duplicates the preceding text because it was written first as a quick summary of events at the meeting.]
A major item at today’s TTC Board meeting was the status of the Presto implementation. There was considerable debate, probably more than we have heard on most issues for the past three years, about what appears to be a less than speedy rollout of Presto on the TTC. I will add more info to this post later, but one particular item deserve early mention.
Chair Karen Stintz wondered about Presto’s ability to be “substantially complete” in her words for the Pan Am Games in mid 2015. The staff presentation was quite clear that the “Wave 2” rollout to the entire system, including all of the bus fleet and over half of the rapid transit system would not even reach the procurement stage until the end of 2014, let alone be installed and active for the games.
Stintz took some umbrage citing “my commitment” that Presto would be “substantially complete” in time for the games. She wants to avoid finger pointing if Toronto does not hit that target, but “this isn’t the agreement we made with province”.
I checked with Metrolinx, and here is their response:
We are confident the plan we have in place will address the needs of the TTC and customers. We expect PRESTO to be in place to serve key venues in time for Pan Am games–a commitment in the master agreement. We are taking a phased approach to rollout, an approach consistent with how we rolled out the GTHA and one we know works well. The streetcar lines are scheduled to be equipped first and will be PRESTO ready when they enter revenue service, now scheduled to begin in October/November 2014. [Email from Anne Marie Aikens]
This does not sound like “substantial completion” to me, and Metrolinx cites the Master Agreement with TTC requiring that it serve “key venues”, not the entire system. This will be rather tricky. The Spadina Subway would have handled York University, but it won’t be open until at least a year after the games. There will likely be a bus shuttle from Scarborough Town Centre to the UTSC campus.
A motion proposed by Stintz, with helpful amendments by others, passed unanimously:
1) Confirm the expectation with PRESTO that the system will be substantially completed in time for the Pan Am Games;
2) The schedule for implementation of PRESTO within the subway stations be reviewed and expedited;
3) CEO, Andy Byford, meet with Metrolinx to identify opportunities to expedite the implementation; and
4) A report be provided to the members of the Board every two weeks on the schedule and status.
Quite clearly, Metrolinx and the TTC don’t see eye to eye on what has been agreed between them. The Master Agreement is not (yet?) a public document, and we don’t know the actual language and commitments, if any, it contains.
The conflation of “my commitment” with “the agreement we made” is troubling. The TTC is not any one person’s organization with personal commitments. It is many people — staff, management and the Board who in turn are appointed by City Council. It is not the TTC’s job to make a potential mayoral candidate look good.
Meanwhile, nobody had the temerity to ask how the TTC would have handled the new streetcar rollout if the cars had been in service when they were originally expected. A year ago, Presto wrestled with its rollout in Ottawa and the system was in no fit state for use in Toronto.
What is astoundingly stupid about the whole Pan Am Games focus is that visitors to the city won’t be in just a few locations and won’t just go to games venues. What the TTC should be promoting is an “all you can eat” pass for the duration of the games. Ideally, it would be plastic complete with a mag stripe just like the Metropass. Presto will not be ready in time, and pinning all our hopes and reputation on it is foolhardy.
But that’s what happens when politics get in the way of good transit decisions.
Updated December 19, 2013 at 6:50 pm:
I received a note from Metrolinx advising that the Master Agreement between the TTC and Metrolinx for the Presto implementation is available online. Note that it is 650 pages long, and much of this is a detailed listing of the TTC’s requirements for the system.
Schedule B is supposed to contain the agreed-to implementation plan, but this section is blank. I have asked whether it exists, and await a reply from Metrolinx.
There appears to be no mention of the Pan Am Games in the version of the document that has been published as I write this.
Updated December 20, 2013 at 8:20 am:
Looking back at previous reports, it is quite clear that there has been slippage in the PRESTO/TTC project, but it is unclear just how and why this happened.
From the Metrolinx Board meeting of June 23, 2011:
Metrolinx and the TTC are currently discussing those terms and conditions – full TTC participation and installation to begin in 2012 and to be substantially completed in 2015
[PRESTO Update, Page 9. The terms and conditions referred to are on Page 12.]
From the Metrolinx Board meeting of September 15, 2011:
Develop plans to benefit customers and the TTC, TTC system to be substantially complete before Pan Am Games (2015)
From a chart of the implementation plan:
- Subway Stations: April 2013 — July 2014
- Legacy LRV: April 2013 — 2015
- Buses: Summer 2013 — 2015
[PRESTO Update, Page 17]
From the Metrolinx Board meeting of November 23, 2011:
PRESTO to be substantially implemented on TTC system prior to the Pan Am Games (2015)
[PRESTO Update Presentation, Page 9]
Notional Timetable — Preliminary Plan
- Subway Stations: November 2012 — August 2014
- Legacy LRV: April 2012 — August 2014
- Buses: March 2013 — December 2014
From the TTC Board meeting of May 1, 2012:
Metrolinx has committed to continuing discussions with TTC to reach a mutually acceptable approach on any outstanding issues.
The expectation is that the necessary details can be worked out over the next few months consistent with the framework and general principles outlined in this report. This will then enable work to continue to substantially implement PRESTO at the TTC by the targeted date of the Pan Am/Parapan Am games in 2015.
The signing of these agreements with Metrolinx will also ensure that the funding for other programs that is contingent upon TTC’s participation in PRESTO (i.e. gas tax; purchase of new streetcars; transit expansion) will continue.
[Framework for Agreements Between TTC and Metrolinx/Presto. Page 6]
From this point onward, Presto presentations at Metrolinx have less substantive data about the TTC project schedule, specifically the status of support for the Pan Am Games, until early 2013. Clearly, something changed in the interim.
From the Metrolinx Board meeting of February 14, 2013:
- New Streetcars PRESTO enabled for revenue service (Spring 2014).
- Deployment to support Pan Am games (April 2015).
- Target for completion 2016.
[PRESTO Update, Page 9]
From the Metrolinx Board meeting of June 27, 2013:
PRESTO will serve key venues and events in time for the 2015 Pan Am/Parapan Am Games
[PRESTO Fact Sheet, June 2013]
As I write this, I am waiting for Metrolinx to post the agreed-to project plan between the TTC and Metrolinx online.
Updated December 20, 2013 at 3:10 pm:
In the continuing saga of the rollout plan for Presto on the TTC, I have received the following from Metrolinx:
The schedule for deployment on the first four lines where the new streetcars will be deployed and 23 subway stations has been agreed in principle. TTC and PRESTO are continuing to work on the remainder of schedules for the rest of the network.
We will work with TTC to finalize the remaining schedules and determine, with their lead, when and how they are posted with the master agreement currently online on the Metrolinx website.
[Email from Anne Marie Aikens, December 21, 2013]
What is abundantly clear is that, somewhere along the way, there was a schedule/scope change for the Presto rollout. When and why this happened, not to mention who was or was not told about the change, is a mystery.
CEO’s Report (with comments about the City budget process)
Riding and Budget
The 2013 budget is expected to be balanced although riding is slightly below projections (mainly due to bad weather) and per trip revenue is slightly lower due to higher pass sales. Lower-than-expected costs more than offset the lower revenue, and there will actually be a slight “surplus” of $1.9m (the subsidy actually needed will be less than what was budgeted). Total riding for 2013 is projected to be 526 million.
Sales of monthly passes continue to rise, to the point that the TTC penalized passholders in the 2014 budget with a bump in the fare multiple (adding $2.70 to the pass price over and above the basic five cents/token).
Revenues ($ millions) Fares $ -10.2 Other 1.3 ¹ Net $ - 8.9 Expenses Workforce Gapping $ -8.3 ² Diesel Fuel -6.5 Other Employee Costs -5.0 ³ Non-labour Costs -3.6 Utilities -1.0 Accident claims 13.6 Net $ -10.8 Reduced Subsidy $ -1.9 ¹One time revenue on the sale of used subway cars ²Delays in hiring replacement staff ³Benefits cost less than expected
The 2014 operating budget was recently approved and is now making its way through Council. As it stands, there is a $6-million unspecified reduction to be achieved, but we have no way of knowing where exactly the knife will cut to find these savings. This is particularly troublesome in a year where service increases are planned for the fall, but they may be postponed to balance the books. TTC Chair Karen Stintz has said that she would look to Council for that extra money, but $6m more for the TTC means either a tax increase, or money stripped from some other program. Because Toronto is rebalancing residential and non-residential tax rates, the burden of any extra funding would fall disproportionately on residential properties. This situation will continue until about 2020.
Total City Tax Supported Budget $3,762m 100% Additional TTC Funding Needed 6m .16% Allocated Residential .25% Non-Residential .08%
In other words, if Stintz is to succeed with what she intends, this will require an additional ¼ percent tax increase on residential rates. This only balances the TTC’s proposed budget, but does not add to it. We have no way of knowing what that $6m would buy in avoided cuts, and the sense that the TTC can find this money if their feet are held to the fire does not make for a strong bargaining position. Moreover, the TTC does no “what if” advocacy with scenarios of what would occur, or what would be possible with varying levels of funding. This leaves Councillors who might join a fight for better subsidies without the information they need to rally support.
The TTC plans to advocate at senior levels for better provincial and federal funding. This is a hollow request considering that additional funding is already proposed as part of the Metrolinx Investment Strategy (25% of any new revenue flows to the municipalities). The Feds don’t fund operating costs. On the capital side Toronto has already pillaged a goodly chunk of proposed stimulus funding for the next decade as part payment for the Scarborough Subway.
Meanwhile at the City Budget Committee, the TTC was asked for briefing notes on a variety of issues, but not, unfortunately, the effect of the $6m in unspecified spending reduction.
- Extending half tariff fare to all persons on Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP)
- Extending half tariff fare to all adults with a disability as defined by provincial law and as defined by wheeltrans
- List of outstanding station conversions from 2013 to 2025 and the costing to meet provincial accessibility guidelines
- The list of stations that are proposed to be renewed for the Easier Access Phase III 2014–2025
- The list of stations that were due to be upgraded from 2008–2014 and the year over year projections during these years to 2025
- The costs associated with platform changes required to the St. Clair Right-of-Way arising from the new Light Rail Vehicle platform requirements
- Summarize the federal-provincial funding requests related to capital and operating needs and the communications strategy to support a public campaign
- A breakdown of 2013 overtime costs as compared to 2014 budgeted overtime costs
The Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) in this report have not changed for 2013, although there is talk of new metrics and greater detail to come, especially on route performance. Headway adherence for the bus and streetcar systems remains poor with values of 65% and 70% respectively. (This means that about 1/3 of the service is operating at a headway over three minutes away from the scheduled value, give or take.) The TTC plans to increase the number of route supervisors in 2014, but it is the way routes are managed, not just the number of route watchers, that is critical. On a brighter note, a new vehicle monitoring system is finally part of the Capital Budget, although it will be several years before we see it implemented. With luck, the TTC will actually implement proven technology from an established vendor, not go the “not invented here” route.
The report notes that Yonge-University subway performance is improving, although it is still below target. Part of this comes from better reliability of the TR trains, and part from other causes. The TTC has backed off somewhat it blaming all its problems on customers (door problems, track fires from discarded newspapers), but they still do not subdivide the reasons for delays in public reports to give a sense of where improvements are most needed.
The customer satisfaction rating dropped from 79% to 75% in the third quarter. The significance of this is hard to gauge without any established trend. When the number goes up, the TTC pats itself on the back for a job well done, but when it goes down, they say “wait and see”. I would be happier if they waited more consistently for proof that attitudes are doing more than just wiggling within the statistical margin of such surveys.
Streetcar System Plans
The date for resumption of streetcar service on Queen’s Quay between Union and Spadina remains at June 23, 2014. However, the section of Spadina south of King will not see streetcar service until March 30, 2014, a delay of six weeks over earlier projections. Waterfront Toronto expects to finish Spadina Loop in January 2014, but the TTC is not counting on its availability. There is no sign yet of new overhead construction south from King beyond very preliminary work done months ago.
Production LFLRV deliveries are running late, and the TTC no longer plans a “big bang” introduction with the conversion of the entire Spadina route in one go. Instead, the roll out will being in the third quarter of 2014 and will shift from the CLRV fleet to LFLRVs as vehicles are available for service. The Bathurst and Harbourfront routes will be the next to receive new cars.
The Leslie Barns project is behind schedule and is now projected to be available early in 2015.
Spadina Subway Extension
Construction at Pioneer Village (Steeles West) Station is badly behind schedule to the point that the fall 2016 opening date (already postponed from 2015 due to issues at York University Station) may not be achieved. Tess Kalinowski at the Star covered this story.
Chair Stintz has a motion proposing that management “to report back in January on the relative costs and benefits of moving to a time based transfer policy and the best way to make such a change should it be adopted.”
Such a report is long overdue, and frankly one should have been provided by management without the need for a motion by the board. It is self-evident that the current transfer policy is not workable in a farecard environment, and any alternative has operational and budgetary effects that should have been discussed as part of the 2014 budget process.
Steve, what time does the Commission meeting start?
Steve: 1:00 pm as per the agenda.
Sooooo….. a few things.
Apparently there is some need to upgrade electrical in subway stations for this to work. Any idea why this wasn’t dealt with before? I feel like the commission is grasping at straws to delay or majorly sideline Presto by claiming not to have enough power in the stations.
Steve: It’s not a question of having “enough” power, but of having it where you need it. As for delays, Presto has problems of its own and went through major teething problems for the “Next Generation” version to come into operation in Ottawa. Toronto is a huge system, and doesn’t want to be stuck with something that won’t work on its scale, let alone be capable of adapting to future fare payment schemes such as credit cards as surrogates for passes, not just single fares, and smart phone apps. The TTC was strong-armed into using Presto by Queen’s Park just like they foisted the ICTS system on us 40 years ago, among other brilliant ideas.
For some good news.. there does not appear to be any major subway closures planned. Surprising really when you see the board of work zones at Kennedy. There are at least 10 work zones on the BD line right now.
Steve: Don’t hold your breath. There are almost certainly more coming in 2014 once we’re back to better construction weather and don’t have to worry about shuttling passengers around on buses during a snow storm.
Last but not least timed transfers…
Has the TTC not been doing a pilot on St. Clair for almost 8 years regarding timed transfers? We know it works and that the system will not crumble if we do it however apparently we will have to wait until January to confirm what we already know.
Honestly I have never seen an organization so scared of change like I have with the TTC. Be it with Presto or St. Clair they are trying desperately to avoid a new way of doing something.. a better way.
Steve: Doing this on one route is much simpler than system wide for two reasons. First, it’s only St. Clair transfers that work, not those from other parts of the system. Moving to a timed fare requires that the transfer bear a valid time for when it was issued, not for the time a vehicle left a terminal possibly an hour ago. Also, passengers shouldn’t be able to take a new transfer every time they come through a subway station. Second, timed fares effectively convert all single fare media — tokens, tickets, cash — to limited time passes and will reduce TTC revenue. The value of this has already been estimated at around $20m annually by the TTC, less than the revenue generated by this year’s five-cent fare increase.
Of course, timed fares only benefit riders who are not already using passes and only their trips, the ones on which the TTC gets a comparatively higher fare per ride, would be affected. There will be no excuse not to convert, technologically speaking, once the new fare machinery is in place. Even those who chose to pay cash will get a receipt issued by the “farebox” that will perform the function of a transfer. Yes, TTC has been dragging its feet on this. I remember hearing that a report was coming to the commission “soon” on this a year ago. It’s yet another example of how the really important discussions have been sidelined while we spend time on the easy, superficial stuff that doesn’t require organizational change or debate about how transit is funded.
They shouldn’t, but if you look at other systems that have had timed transfers for decades already, that’s what people would do. I’d routinely grab a transfer in a Montreal Metro station after using a bus transfer in an automatic machine. Come to think of it … didn’t you have to … I ‘m not sure that the old machines gave you back your transfer (Montreal bus transfers were machine readable since at least the 1970s … though that system has now been retired).
I’d think Day 1 of time-based transfers, one would simply ignore a relatively small issue like people refreshing their transfer in subway stations … as we switch to the new media and technology, the problem will disappear.
Steve: But you can bet on TTC staff raising this as a huge barrier to changing the way they operate. A big issue here is the degree to which non-pass/farecard media are going to survive the transition to Presto. All ticket forms really do need to be replaced, but there will be big debate about it. Meanwhile, we can be sure to hear a big defense of the cash fare, if only from TTC management who count on it as a revenue generator.
Mississauga Transit has always counted time – expired transfers based on when the vehicle left the terminal … so depending where I board the bus my transfer could be good for 1.5-2 hours (up to 2.5 hours if the bus driver pads the time a bit).
If I pick up a bus on a short route my transfer is worth more to me than if I pick up a bus nearing the end of a long route … I will still have enough time to get around and possibly get back home on the same transfer.
I’d say that Mississauga still gets enough revenue because a majority of people still stop over long enough so that they would need to pay a second fare. The possibility of a ‘one – fare return trip’ is more of an encouragement to get people to use transit instead of hopping into their car.
Is there any data from the 8 year test on St. Clair that suggests where the TTC wants to set the time? They could easily set it at 1.5 hours or less* instead of 2 and reduce the number of “one – fare return trips.”
*under the current system using the ‘most direct trip’ it seems the TTC expects that 1.5 hours is more than enough for a 1-way trip.
Steve: I have not seen any data from St. Clair and doubt the TTC has bothered to study this. An important issue region wide is that the same protocol be implemented everywhere. We can’t have a 1.5 hour timed fare in Toronto and a 2.0 hour fare in Mississauga if the fare boundary really is going to disappear.
Not quite, and not necessarily. As the page on St. Clair’s time-based transfers says, “On routes other than 512 St Clair, the transfer is valid at the connecting route transfer points only, until the expiry time shown. “ It depends how this is extended system-wide. They could retain the “connecting route transfer points only”. Then, for example, I could not stroll a few blocks west of Bathurst along Queen, and then board a streetcar, even if my transfer was still valid. What are the odds of TTC management pushing for the “transfer points only” restriction?
Steve: As I said in a previous comment, the scheme has to be uniform across the GTHA if we really are talking about fare “integration”. A timed fare is a limited time pass, and that is what the TTC should be studying. It is impossible to implement any sort of location-specific transfer restraints in the Presto system. Don’t forget that this is the fundamental point of system design, not how we would adjust the operation of paper transfers.
I’ll add some observations and comments about time-based transfers from my experiences with YRT.
When YRT moved to time-based transfers in 2005, they still used transfers that showed the time by how it was torn as the TTC uses, though instead of a 90 degree cut to show the hour and a notch to show the nearest 15 minutes, the left edge showed the hour and the right edge shows 15-minute marks and the transfer was torn at an angle to cut it for each. You can be the judge about which is more awkward for the operator.
In theory, the operator would set tear position for two hours after the time at the start of the route and update it every 15 minutes along the way. In practice, it was not uncommon for an operator to set the tear position a little further in the future to avoid having to re-adjust it as often. Starting a trip at a VivaStation would result in a receipt/transfer with an expiry exactly two hours in the future from the moment it was purchased or if tickets were used, when it was cancelled. Starting a trip where one pays on board, would generally result in a transfer good for 2 and a half or more hours. As an extreme example, I once boarded a YRT bus at 4:30 pm and received a transfer good until 9 pm.
Once Presto came online, torn transfers went the way of the dodo, as the Presto terminal is used to print transfers for cash and ticket fares. Now everyone gets a transfer with an expiry exactly 2 hours from the minute they pay their fare.
Steve: The TTC will go through a transitional phase where some routes are issuing transfers and others are using Presto. Any new rules have to be supported by the way operators issue paper transfers, while that practice lasts.
I suspect that THIS will be the biggest issue of opposition to time-based transfers, and the opposition will come from the public, not the TTC.
Taking away the sacred cows that transfer machines in subway stations are will be like confiscating a coffee from someone who steps out of a Tim’s or Starbucks. I get the impression that most of the people who use the TTC have never experienced time-based transfers and will only see the loss of the use-it-any-time-you-want transfer machine. Never mind the transfer you get when you go through the gate will be good without question for two hours at any place you want to board in any direction.
Of course I could be totally wrong about TTC users not wanting to embrace something they have never experienced that people in many other places now take for granted. Can anyone say “LRT”?
I have no doubt it will reduce the revenue, but I wonder if it will be as much as $20m, and also suspect things may even themselves out as time goes forward. Anyone currently needing to make a multi-leg trip in a two hour period would benefit from only having to pay a single fare instead of two or more fares now, but I suspect the TTC overestimates the number of people actually doing this. I don’t simply mean the number of people making multi-leg trips in 2 hours, but people who are paying for each leg. I suspect most everyone reading this, myself included, has made a stop-over and re-boarded the TTC with a transfer. On numerous occasions, I have taken the time to think through where I was going to exit the TTC and then where I would walk to to reboard in order for my transfer to appear valid. Time-based transfers simply make these actions ‘legal’ with no loss of revenue to the TTC.
Steve: Until the Metropass came along in 1980, I was a master of this technique, to which can be added the trick of getting on a vehicle that will be short turned (it’s not as if they are rare) and getting a new transfer to continue my trip when we’re all pitched off. As for multi-leg trips, I suspect that people who make a lot of these routinely are already Metropass users for the obvious reason that they no longer have to worry about transfer rules. Therefore, not all riders taking such trips represent lost revenue to a timed transfer.
The other issue, that I believe the TTC misses in calculating their $20m “cost” is the number of new paid rides that will occur because of time-based transfers. I believe there are plenty of situations where one needs to travel out and back a somewhat short distance but choose another mode because paying two fares is just not worth it. These are situations where many would pay a fare if it could get them the round trip. This extra passenger on the system for a relatively short distance adds close to no cost to the system while generating a new fare. I suspect that this might chop a couple of million off the estimated loss in the first year, but will increase its effect in subsequent years.
For timed based transfers, I don’t think it needs to state what time it was issued. Grand River Transit as well as other systems in Canada have a transfer system that states the time the transfer expires (e.g. if it says 1000, the transfer is good to 1000) instead of when the transfer is issued. This allows for flexibility of expiry time during delays and prevents operators having to argue with passengers whether a transfer is valid. The only challenge is transfer fraud but that can be minimized with a smart card system. Transfer policy change is not hard to implement, but just lacks the political will and senior management impetus to do so (we already have the machines at the stations, we just have to change the transfer format for the buses). 20 million in lost fares is a lot but compared to a 400-500 million subsidy, time based transfers is not the elephant in the room where costs are concerned.
Steve: I agree. A “good until” timestamp (or cutoff, or whatever) is the simplest to explain and enforce. It could even have a variable interval say at evenings and weekends, but would always have the same format and be unambiguous in its meaning.
That it is overdue that is pathetic. But I already know management’s response: “We cannot do this as we will lose TOO MUCH MONEY!” I remember being at a meeting about converting the streetcar lines on Lake Shore Blvd. W. to a ROW a few years ago and this was their excuse to local residents back then, and I have heard it again since then. So, I expect them to fight it very step of the way a la Sir Humphrey Appleby from Yes, Minister.
Steve: Except Sir Humphrey was considerably more sophisticated in his subterfuges than many I have seen at the TTC.
That is for the paper transfers. If you use a PRESTO card then the time starts when you first tap your card.
And how do you expect to implement this Steve? I doubt this is an easy thing to do.
Steve: I don’t propose to implement it, but it will be a management excuse. If anything, it should be an incentive to get rid of paper transfers sooner rather than later.
I agree with Steve’s second comment.
GTA Fare integration is critical to seamless GTA public transit use:
1. It is simple to program;
2. It removes artificial boundaries allowing ppl to travel where they want to on 1 fare;
3. It would be likely be a bigger boost to GTA transit rides than Metrolinx’s $50B BIG MOVE expansion, by making public transit “cheaper, faster, more convenient”;
4. It would flow incremental revenue dollars into public transit, off-peak, reducing need for operating subsidies (this is particularly true in 905, eg. YRT w $~4.50/ride OpSubs); or, conversely allowing additional service hours/kms w/o additional costs;
5. The TTC Staff has mislead public, Commission and hidden the true cost of 2-hour time based transfer (based on St. Clair experience last 7 years), so as to not weaken case for more Operating Subsidy. TTC-wide impact of time-based transfer on TTC is ~$21M (SM)… peanuts on annual ~$1B revenue/~$1.5B cost. A former TTC Official said GTA fare would cost TTC: $100–$150M lost revenue/higher subsidy (hogwash).
With regards to time based transfers wouldn’t a portion, if not all, of the legs be taken at the cheaper to provide non-peak hours? Non-peak service is cheaper to provide as there is already an empty seat. And even if additional service has to be added, the needed vehicles are already in the fleet.
Steve: Likely, although some off-peak services are rather crowded these days. Your point is a good one, however, because TTC brass simply cannot decouple in their minds the collection of revenue from the provision of service.
I’m wondering if I made a mistake above, with cost of TTC rolling out TBT to entire TTC, did you tell me $21M, or $11M — I seem to think it was the latter, after I posted it.
If so, would you please correct.
Steve: I believe it is $21m.
I expect many simply end up walking a short leg, that they might otherwise have jumped on a passing bus/streetcar if they had a metropass.
That’s a very good point. My wife and I share a Metropass. Invariably she ends up using tokens when doing errands while I’m at work. There and back is fine … but with several legs, particularly along the Danforth where reboarding opportunities are minimal; sometimes it’s just cheaper to take the car, than paying $11 or $14 in tokens. Many, if not most, of these extra journeys are off-peak (’cause who’d drive down Danforth doing errands in rush hour?!?) … so no real cost to TTC for extra revenue.
I think a cash fare is still very useful. Particularly from non-locals … surely it’s easier and cheaper for a visitor to toss a Toonie or $3 into a farebox, than to start worrying about having to get tickets, tokens, and then not using them all up. And is it really worth it for many infrequent users to worry about keeping stacks of 60¢ children tickets rather than dropping 75¢ in the fare box?
Steve: The “legacy” fare machines will issue fare receipts for cash and, at least in the interim tokens and maybe even tickets. Oddly enough, the cash fare (and keeping it low) is often defended as a “benefit” to the poor who, it is claimed, can’t get two cents together at a time much less buy tokens or a pass. They wind up paying the highest fares although they can least afford it. An important offshoot of fare cards will be to figure out how to give deserving groups a discount so that they don’t have to pay so much to use the system.
Under the heading of “Riding and Budget,” in small print, I found:
I’m very curious to know who’s buying used subway cars from Toronto, and why?
Steve: According to the Star, Nigeria. The article does not mention it, but they may get new electronics as the current equipment is rather long in the tooth. As an extra wrinkle, a consultant working on the project is the author of the recent report on The Big Move published by the Neptis Foundation.
True. I know that a PRESTO card will remember when you first tap on, and can be programmed to to give you the transfer time for free.
Now what about the occasional user who would not use a PRESTO card? I assume, as with other systems, that a paper transfer could be provided when you pay. The 501 Queen car uses this as it is on a POP system – when you pay your fare, you automatically receive a transfer. This would occur if you don’t pay with a PRESTO card – you automatically receive a transfer – and if you lose it, too bad. No new transfer.
Steve: Yes, until the conversion is complete, the Presto readers will issue a fare receipt.
Speaking of service quality.. after everything that happened today Brad Ross went on Citynews to say that new streetcars will make all our problems go away because they are more reliable and will break down less.
Oddly enough no streetcars broke down today. One derailed and one hit something.
I find it amusing that whenever something bad happens the TTC always trots out the new streetcars as the solution to all our problems.
Steve: From the Andy Byford’s statement about today’s events:
So two of the three had nothing to do with breakdowns. I also can’t help wondering why it took so long to extract the car from Queen and Broadview, although the fact it was on a curve may not have helped in coupling up. If so, that should be a “lessons learned” event for the future.
Thanks for the correction. I find it interesting as well as someone pointed out to Brad on twitter.. the news release you quoted notes that car turned SOUTH ON BROADVIEW to Queen.
Think about that for a second.
Steve: Yes, streetcars turn south from Broadview onto Queen mainly heading west, but also east to the carhouse.
They said the same about the new subway trains …. until they started running in service and turned out to be almost as unreliable as the elderly crates they were replacing. Funny you don’t hear about how the TR trains are “50% more reliable than our old trains” anymore!
Steve: And it’s worth noting that in the 2014 fleet plan, the spare factor for the TRs went up by one percent compared to 2013’s version.
To this day, YRT operators (on pay-as-you-enter routes, not VIVA) are provided with paper transfers just in case the Presto printer dies or runs out of paper. I was once on a bus where the Presto unit could not print a 2-zone receipt (not an issue for the TTC) and the driver had to give a tear-away transfer. So, the practice will last beyond the full implementation of Presto.
Very true, but sometimes people get concerned over what that expiry means when a system has a mix of pay-as-you-enter and POP routes. Basically, the transfer must be in effect when an operator or a fare inspector looks at it. For pay-as-you-enter, this means it must be good when one boards the vehicle. For POP, it means that it must be good for the entire duration of the trip.
That said, in my experience YRT’s enforcement officers will give you some leeway if your fare expires during the trip. When they check your Presto card and a red light shows, they can hit a few buttons and re-read your card to see its recent history.
I have seen numerous times someone getting on a pay-as-you-enter bus and show a transfer that was minutes away from expiry. Asking how long it will take to reach their destination, often the operator’s response indicated s/he is no more aware that it only needs to be good at the moment the person boards. I have explained this and convincing point is made when I ask how the fare is checked after entry for anyone on the bus who used cash or a ticket and did not receive a transfer.
Depending on where the derailment occurred at Russell Yard, there are other exits. Of course, if they continued the track west along Eastern Ave. to Knox and then up to Queen St., it would mean that streetcars could be backed out on to Eastern Ave. and then head forward into service. It also would help for short turns (they could go out of service at Connaught, and go around, not through Russell carhouse, to get back into service.
Of course, I am thinking practically for when things go wrong, but the TTC may see it as being a rare enough event that they don’t need the ‘back-up’ route.
Steve: That’s an expensive way to get around a rare derailment. The track on the north side of Russell Yard is scheduled for reconstruction in 2015 (south side in 2014). And I wouldn’t hold my breath getting trackage laid up Knox Avenue and new special work at Queen.
“Practicality” includes evaluating the likelihood of an event and weighing the cost versus the provision of a “Plan B”. That derailment was compounded by the collision at Broadview and Queen, and I would really like to know more about that one, specifically why it took so long to clear.
Regarding the frequent comments by Brad Ross and Andy Byford about how the new streetcars will solve so many problems. One question. Where are they? Around two years behind schedule when you count backwards and forward to the new _expected_ 4th Q 2014. Bring back the PCC’s!
Not to sound redundant but there needs to be a major shakeup in the management department.
All I hear is the same boilerplate but nothing ever changes. Feel good stories are one thing but actual changes are another.
Honestly … every town hall or meeting in general the same people get trotted out be it Vince, Mitch or Brad. It’s a systemic thing based on years of complacency that will only be solved by having a fresh pair of eyes.
I like Brad and all but honestly … coming up with the same fluff ideas all the time isn’t helping.
As I always say … you can cut off a diseased toe but if the body is also diseased the problem will remain.
Simply put the TTC brass need a shake-up if any sort of ideological change is to occur … I don’t see that happening though.
Steve, do you think there will ever come a day (before tokens are eliminated entirely) that the cash fare and the bulk token fare converge? It strikes me that if the time ever comes that the bulk fare catches up with the cash fare, that it would be simpler to just allow the price to converge, then move up together rather than to continue the distinction.
Steve: The relative level of the fares is a political issue, and freezing the cash fare has always been portrayed as a benefit to the poor who use this medium more. If we see changes in fares such as time based transfers and discounts, almost certainly through Presto, for specific low-income groups, then this argument may fade. Tokens will disappear, but that’s going to take a while.
How can anybody trust Karen Stintz anymore after the Scarborough subway mess.
For anyone ploughing through the TTC Presto document, keep an eye out for how current fare-paid transfers between surface and subway routes will work. If you fail to tap on to a bus or streetcar, will you then have free access to trains?
Steve: The whole business of line to line transfers is a mess both for the transitional period and the final rollout. Unfortunately, without reading all of the fine print, we won’t see what happens until they implement it. By then, Karen-don’t-you-love-my-clean-stations-Stintz will be long gone. If she really cared about “customer service” this sort of thing would be top of the list.
Interesting the number of references to time based transfers. They have had time based transfers in Brampton almost since the beginning. Bramptonians have also heavily adopted Presto. Paper tickets and passes are being phased out. In future they will have only Presto and cash. A paper transfer is issued with a 2 hour expiry data when cash is submitted. The transfer is good for boarding at any stop as long as the time has not expired. This allows me to start walking and then board the bus a couple of stops up the road if one comes along.
One Gotcha for the Presto card, is a payment on the card will destroy the 2 hour transfer period, and a new fare will be charged if the trip is continued.
For TTC users, one change will be that they must always carry proof of fare. Issues like short turn will not re-issue a transfer. On the Chicago El/subway, people without a pass may buy a 2 hour pass from a machine. So one way or the other everyone must have a pass.
One issue with TTC will be potential length of trip may exceed 2 hours. I visualize Queen where there is an accident or bad weather where the trip exceeds 2 hours making any transfer void.
Steve: And there has to be a policy for dealing with that sort of situation, not a “oh dear, we never thought about that” response. It would be roughly similar to GO’s on time guarantee. If it was a seriously bad weather day, then the validity period would have to be extended, even retroactively if need be.
There is nothing about prioritizing buses that are used in contracted services outside of Toronto for getting Presto readers ahead of other parts of the system. These should have been equipped with existing readers from the day Presto went into use in the contracted region. This is especially an issue in York Region where there are more TTC contracted routes than in any other jurisdiction. YRT’s official policy is to not issue a paper transfer to Presto users, even though one is needed when transferring to a TTC contracted service. They tell people to either pay cash ($4.00 in the new year) or use tickets (a $33.00 outlay in the new year) if their journey will involve a TTC contracted route and leave their Presto card for all-YRT operated trips.
The section in the document about cross-border does describe the some of the issues concerning cross-border travel, but nothing is mentioned about simply using Presto for the non-TTC fare which has been in place for a few years now.
It is interesting that the new system will use GPS to determine the vehicle’s location (REQ-CBD-3, in section 8.1). Current Presto terminals do not use GPS at all. On GO, the operator must key in the zone of a stop before passengers tap on or off. On YRT, which has three zones, the terminals make use of schedule information to determine the actual location, but can be re-synched by the operator along the way, if they remember to do this. I once got dinged for an extra fare (not just the $1 zone supplment, but an entire second fare!) when boarding a bus in zone 1 because its Presto terminal though the bus was still in zone 2.
Gordon Keith wrote:
That is a bug that should be fixed, but it’s good to be aware of. In York Region, there are few places where one can add funds in person, so the situation would be rare, but in Toronto this will become a major issue if it is not fixed.
Steve, someone mentioned to me that you could tap on with a credit card on at least one of the subway stations (I don’t remember where though). I assume this would be a second generation reader?).
Do you know if this is true, I haven’t seen any mention of this on anything official?
Steve: Not sure. There is no mention of this on the TTC’s site.
Steve do you have a study that actually says this or is this the TTC’s claim? I would assume that the poor would normally pay the cheapest fare possible – i.e. tokens (or PRESTO in the future.) It would depend on how often they use the TTC, but the more they use it, the more likely they are to be the ones using the cheapest option in my opinion, simply because they cannot afford to pay more.
Steve: This statement is most commonly made by advocates for the poor, although in the latest round of increases, the TTC piggybacked on it to justify the extra bump in Metropass prices — the premise was that pass holders are working and can afford an increase more than the poor. I think that’s a contrived argument, but none of the Board members challenged it. The nub of the claim is that the poor live very much on a day to day budget, and laying out money for tokens in advance may compete with more pressing spending. A Metropass poses an even greater hurdle. From my own observations, cash fares are paid by a wide variety of riders.
In theory, you would have to pay to get on the bus/streetcar to begin with. This is especially true if you board the bus/streetcar enroute. However, I have occasionally seen an issue with PRESTO in Mississauga when I have boarded a Mississauga Transit bus at Long Branch Loop. Sometimes the PRESTO isn’t working when I first get on.
Perhaps because I am too honest, but I will pay when I get off the bus instead then. This happened three times to me, and on one occasion the PRESTO machine was still not working when I got off – the driver just let me go saying there was nothing he could do. Mind you, I have used PRESTO successfully countless times, so three exceptions are not a big deal.
If the TTC does not make sure that PRESTO will work, then this type of issue might happen occasionally. But then again, its their problem not mine.
Yes, and what is the issue here? With other systems, every time you tap on a bus with your PRESTO card within the timeframe (normally 2 hours in my experience) is a free trip. You are only charged again if you tap your PRESTO card on a bus more than two hours after the initial tap on.
Steve: The point he is making is that reloading the card resets the clock and you lose the residual time on an already-paid fare. This sounds like a design bug.
The problem here is with making sure those buses always operate on those routes. I have seen buses meant for the express airport run (192 Airport) on other routes. And these buses have been retrofitted with luggage racks for the run, and are supposed to be dedicated to that run.
Steve: To some extent, I can sympathize with the rollout teams. Everybody has a reason why their chunk of the system should be “first”. There will be gerrymandering to serve specific bus routes associated with Pan Am sites. There may be a decision to move to proof of payment early on articulated low floor bus routes. At the end of the day, there is going to be a transition period no matter what, and the important thing is for it to work as well as possible with attention to the details. Saying that the system is broken as designed will not be an option.
I saw in (somone else’s) Metro that contract for subway station card readers won’t be awarded until the end of next year (which leaves little time for installation, testing, and bug-fixing before the Games). Why will this take so long???
Steve: It appears to be the procurement schedule that the TTC and Metrolinx have agreed on. I am still chasing info about how the rollout plan was modified from “substantially for the games” to “serving major venues”. At no point is there a public report that I have found announcing this, the reason behind it, or the degree of acceptance (willing or forced) by the parties involved. When we consider that the TTC was told “use Presto or lose your subsidies”, any “decision” they make must be read with the clear possibility of coercion — stretch out the TTC’s “requirement” so that Presto can be “successful” hitting the relaxed target date.
Karen Stinz & Joshe Colle have both been terrible leaders on transit. I would point to not only Scarb. debacle but also the wonderful mess of a debate on funding the Big Move at council.
Judging from all the recent polls, all credit for the Scarb. subway replacement for RT has gone to Rob Ford. Whether he can keep that during a campaign remains to be seen, but most people don’t follow details like that close enough to care. Rob screams for subways, we got a subway, so all credit to Rob.
The debate on revenue tools/taxes for transit which looked at 1st like a political loss for Ford who had still just enough support at executive to delay the debate, resulting in a special meeting. Colle with presumably Karen Stinz’s support, brought in the weaselly double negative motion, we won’t give any support to raising funds for transit but we especially don’t like these, so any we don’t mention might be ok. Ford declared victory once again, and the narrative of creating political will across the region for raising funds for Big Move which Hazel McCallion & others had started, collapsed. Really wonder if Wynne would have felt need for 2nd panel if Toronto had come out clearly in support of Metrolinx raising funds for transit.
I have this terrible nagging feeling around my stomach that we will for a long time rue the day when the dynamic trio Dalton, David and Adam came to power.
Dalton gave us two hydro stations, which he didn’t want to build at all — started to build the foundations and then tried to impress the electorate that he is listening and cancelled those plants at an unknown cost.
His sidekicks David and Adam were not any better. Their first attempt to build their version of “LRT” on Kingston Rd. (whatever they understood as LRT) was laughed-off during the presentation meetings. So they concentrated on Eglinton LRT pulling the legs of the public in the process. They (and later Metrolinx) pretended that they were and still are willing to listen to the public and showed various alternatives about the section between Don Mills and Laird knowing full well all along that the only viable alternative will be to put the eastern portal in the middle of Eglinton west of Leslie.
The parallel local service has not yet been resolved between TTC and Metrolinx.
Metrolinx masterfully hides the fact that proposed LRT trains will be 90m long — they say in their flyers, that the LRT train will consist of 3 units. Unless you really follow the project, you would never know what that 3 stands for. We are now in late 2013 and we find another blunder — PRESTO will not be fully operational by the time the Pan Ams will start.
We see huge cost overruns on everything TTC touches lately — preparation of streetcar routes for new LFs, conversion to pantographs, new sub-stations for more powerful vehicles, PRESTO — what else is hidden in the pipelines??
Steve: Cost overruns? That’s not quite accurate, but I would certainly say that the full cost of conversion was not well understood up front. The TTC should have been moving to pantographs years ago and actually sort of started on Spadina, but lost heart. We were also just coming out of the early 90s recession, and the cost was seen as something we could live without, for a time. The problem of course is that the TTC stayed in a permanent underfunding situation, and things that should have happened never came back into view.
As for the substations, this only affects the outer ends of Queen (at Neville and Humber) where there would be problems with low voltage.
PRESTO is a provincial problem, but the TTC is caught up in it. However, one thing the TTC can take credit/blame for is the absence of a public debate about fare policy and regional integration. A fare card, regardless of whose name is on it, brings many possibilities, but the biggest concern has been whether it will even work on the TTC’s scale. Rollout problems in Ottawa for the past year were not encouraging.
Re parallel local service, the TTC can hardly claim that Metrolinx is forcing this on them because the stop spacing is the same as it would have been in the original Transit City project. This is a more fundamental issue of accessibility and convenience of transit which the TTC systematically ignores once it puts a subway line under a street.
And, no we do not see “huge cost overruns” on every project the TTC is involved with. What we do see is a political environment in which TTC projects are forced to carry costs that are properly part of other budgets. And I won’t say anything about that little subway project in Scarborough which dwarfs any issues there might have been regarding LRT on Kingston Road.
It will be interesting to see how much fare-dodging will take place, once PRESTO is implemented on the TTC.
My wife & I were in Melbourne last month and during the eight days of riding the tram system, I estimated about 70 per cent of boarding passengers did not tap on their MYKI card.
Steve: If someone is carrying the equivalent of a pass on their myki card, there is absolutely no need for them to “tap on” other than a bureaucratic desire to follow trips around the system. If they are challenged by a fare inspector, it would quickly be obvious that they had a ride-at-will pass on their card. I am quite annoyed at some discussions of Presto implementation in Toronto that imply there will be a lot of needless tapping going on. This will produce needless congestion around the fare machines.
People routinely board by rear doors on Queen today (and on other routes when an operator opens the doors to speed loading and use up capacity in the back end), and they don’t generally show their cards. (I’m one of many such riders.) If the TTC is losing revenue, it is because they don’t have enough fare inspectors. Moving to an everybody tap all the time model would be a disaster and would undo many of the benefits of all door loading and smart card fare collection.
But it would keep the bean counters happy.
Perhaps what should happen is that you immediately get a “free” trip every time you load a minimum amount of money … which would negate the issue of losing residual time. Of course, I suppose that would make it even more complicated.
Hong Kong’s Octopus Card has long been offering bonuses of free trips … and draws, and free gifts etc for regular users … and you can reload your card almost anywhere and use it almost everywhere.
I can reload my Presto card anywhere in Mississauga … as long as it is at a GO station on the Lakeshore Line (or the Milton Line during staffed hours). They don’t even allow Presto reloads at the Mississauga Transit Kiosk inside Islington Station … let alone reloading/using the card at any 7-11 convenience store.
Steve: It will be intriguing to see how long Metrolinx tries to keep Presto cards alive and fight off more general usage by bank cards. A likely way (we see this already) would be to only offer concession, multi-ride and pass-like fare structures on Presto, and leave only single fares on bank cards. A point will come where having an “in house” smart card will be considered rather quaint, just like paper transfers.
It’s amazing when I think back to Adam Giambrone wanting open payment systems on the TTC around 4 years ago. People were wondering why he wanted a more complicated system and why he thought Presto was not good enough for the TTC (when other agencies had started using it).
This pushing of Presto into the TTC is a recurrence of the pushing of ICTS onto the TTC … And here I thought the Ontario government had matured and learned from the decisions made 30-odd years ago.
Steve: There are always people inside and outside the government who look to development projects as a source of income, and the weight of government pressure on clients to ensure a market. Remember natural gas buses? One of the latest BS technologies is the hydrogen train which is trying to derail electrification of GO.
I think that the comments about having Presto ready for the Pan Am games is a lot useless noise. People who are here only for the games are not going to buy a Presto Card. What would be better would be a special pass valid for the length of the games or for a certain number of days within the games. Whenever I have travelled to other jurisdictions like London nor Hong Kong I have not bought one of their cards but a short term tourist pass.
I’ve seen that problem too in Mississauga. I don’t know if it’s management or the drivers themselves catching on, but lately if the main PRESTO reader isn’t working, the one next to the driver used to load money on your card similar to the ones on GO Transit buses can be used to tap on. At least there is a backup system in place if one of the readers isn’t working for whatever reason. I assume this is a standard feature of the system and is available to all participating agencies with a flat fare system.
Oh, when did they switch back to that? Last time I tried to buy a short term tourist pass in London, they put it on an Oyster card, and said that’s how they do it now … and that was years ago.
Steve: Looking at TfL’s site, both Oyster cards and paper Travelcards are available.
I believe that was one of the readers at College station. It was a test. Here’s an article from before the test, and the Star mentioned after the test, it was at Dundas too.
I believe I read someone mentioning that it was running, but they charged $3 instead of TTC token fare.
Not sure if the machines are still in place or not … but presumably if one waves Visa cards in front of Presto readers, one can see what will happen. I’d expect this to be a very soft rollout … and a good reason for not putting one’s entire wallet up to a Presto reader, as you don’t know what’s going to get charged …
It’s interesting that you should say that. Back when I was in Malaysia I attended one very interesting presentation in 2009 from the head of Singapore’s EZ-LINK (their farecard). He specifically mentioned that they were introducing a new card with open architecture. The banks would put EZ-LINK on bank cards and the phone companies wpuld put on NFC enabled devices and EZ-Link would do the calculations to calculate de facto passes.
Eventually EZ-Link would stop making the plastic cards themselves so they could cut costs and focus on improving the architecture and the user experience … and the plan was to do this by 2020 at the latest.
I don’t even think we’ll see a full rollout of PRESTO 2.0 by then.
Does the TTC have any fare inspectors any more? I haven’t seen one on the Queen car in ages.