Presto Comes to Spadina

With the beginning of service today (November 30, 2014), Presto is available on any of the new streetcars running on Spadina.

That said, the implementation is ill-conceived, and how this can possibly be rolled out successfully system-wide is a mystery.

At each doorway (and on both sides of the double-width doors) there is a Presto reader. So far so good — make it easy to tap on as people enter.

However, if you need a transfer (and lots of riders do), you have to go to one of the two TTC fare machines which are (a) on the other side of the car and (b) nowhere near two of the four doors. There, you tap again and the machine issues a transfer.  All this assumes it’s not busy serving customers paying with cash or tokens.

Anyone who has been on one of the new cars when Spadina is busy will know that internal circulation just doesn’t happen. It’s hard enough to move around within the module where one boards, let alone get to another module where there’s a fare machine.

On the subway, the TTC doesn’t have this problem because transfer machines are available for all riders inside the paid area of a station, and a Presto rider is no different from someone who paid with another medium. Not so on the streetcars.

There is no sign of Presto support at the on street fare machines.

Why, oh why, wasn’t the Presto reader integrated with the TTC machines?

Meanwhile, we see another cocked up implementation of technology, one that TTC will get most of the blame for. Fortunately, there is little market penetration of Presto on TTC beyond downtown commuters because that’s the only place their card works. Until the TTC provides Metropass functionality via Presto, there is no incentive for the most frequent users to convert, and then it will have to work on all vehicles.

This has more the smell of publicity — “look what we did” — for the Presto project than it does of a useful addition to the system.

Half-baked would be a generous overstatement.

At Last! 4404 Arrives (Updated)

Updated November 30, 2014 at 6:20 am:

Car 4404 entered revenue service on 510 Spadina just before 6:00 am today. This also marks the introduction of Presto! on the Toronto surface network. Later today, 4400 should join 4404 in service, and by Wednesday, December 3, 4403 is expected to be on the street as well.

Delivery of additional Flexities from Bombardier has been slow because the TTC is insisting that quality control at the plant be improved, and they will not accept cars only to have them fail in Toronto during testing. The TTC is also working with Bombardier to get the production and delivery rate up to a higher level so that the conversion of routes to Flexity operation can get underway properly.

Meanwhile, as already announced by CEO Andy Byford, the coming 2015 budget will include money for renewal work on the ALRV fleet (the articulated streetcars used mainly on King and Queen) to extend their lives and retain their higher capacity during the transition to Flexity operation.

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