This article arises from a comment in a related thread by Richard White in which he reported a misinformed remark by a Presto passenger rep on car 4403:
I asked about the transfer situation and she said and I quote. “He (Steve Munro) is wrong. You don’t always need a transfer. You only need it when getting on buses” Then I asked her about transfer on streetcars.
She said “Oh yea.. you need it on the old cars too.. but not on the subways. He is wrong because he did not ask about the subways. You do not need a transfer if you are going to the subway!”
Well, for the benefit of people who don’t know Toronto’s transit system well, here are all of the permutations of when one might, or might not, require a transfer or fare receipt. The situation will change substantially if the TTC implements either of the proposed fare structure changes for 2015: a two hour timed-based fare and/or PoP across the entire system with all-door loading even on routes that are not Presto-equipped.
Current Fare Collection System
If you have a Metropass, no worries. All doors are open to you, and if you are challenged, just flash the pass.
If you pay by ticket/token/cash, you will need to get a transfer (non-Presto vehicle) or a fare receipt (Presto vehicle) for the following purposes:
- Proof of payment if you are on a PoP route (currently Spadina or Queen), or planning to transfer to such a route (say, Spadina to Queen).
- Transfer to any route that is not via a fare controlled area such as an intersecting bus or streetcar route (say, Spadina to Dundas), or to a downstream route on your journey (such as Spadina car to subway to Dufferin bus).
- Transfer via the “TTC Times Two” using GO Transit as a bridge route between two TTC routes. (Thanks to Richard for pointing out this option.)
If you pay by Presto, you will need to get a transfer for the following purposes:
- If you plan to transfer to another nominally PoP route that operates with “old” streetcars, depending on the time of day, the operator may not open all doors and you will need a transfer in the conventional sense to get on, PoP or no PoP. This is not uncommon on 501 Queen.
- Transfer to any route that is not via a fare controlled area (see above) or via TTC Times Two as above unless the “far end” route is also 100% Presto equipped.
Of course, if the vehicle you board does not support Presto, you have to find some other fare medium like a token. A rider may have a Presto card, but actually using it can be a challenge.
There are also special circumstances such as the use of “old” fare collection methods in areas where “new” vehicles operate. For example:
- During the summer, the TTC has operated Queens Quay service on a “free inbound to Union” basis to speed loading. This may be discontinued if both 509 and 510 routes are operating with PoP and all-door loading, but there is a basic problem — if the only fare collection available in the connecting tunnel at Union is a farebox, Presto users will need to have transfers. Given the layout of the new, much shorter tunnel between Union Loop and the subway platform, this fare collection method is unlikely to reappear.
- At the CNE, the loop usually operates pay-as-you-enter onboard streetcars, but at times is a pre-paid area for special events. What is a Presto user to do at such a location?
If The TTC Implements PoP System-Wide Before Presto Rolls Out Completely
If you have a Metropass, no worries. All doors are open to you, and if you are challenged, just flash the pass.
If you pay by ticket/token/cash, you will always need to get a transfer as Proof of Payment regardless of which route(s) you are riding.
If you pay by Presto, you will need to get a transfer unless you know that you will only be connecting with routes that are either closed transfers (i.e. at a subway station) or are themselves 100% Presto equipped (same situation as above).
Of course, we could just have all vehicles open all doors and let on all riders whether they have a fare receipt or not, and hope that a fare inspector just might make that once-in-a-thousand inspection to catch them. I foresee much rear door loading to avoid inspection by operators on buses and on older streetcars.
If the TTC Implements a Two-Hour Timed Fare Before Presto Rolls Out Completely
If you have a Metropass, no worries. All doors are open to you, and if you are challenged, just flash the pass. (The echo here is deliberate.)
If you pay by ticket/token/cash, you should always get a transfer (fare receipt) so that you can resume your journey at any time within the two-hour window.
If you pay by Presto, you should always get a transfer (fare receipt) for use on any routes or at subway stations where Presto is not available to validate your still-active two-hour fare.
The Eternal Metropass
Until the TTC is able to support Presto on the vast majority of its network, Metropass users will not convert to Presto for the simple reason that they will be stuck from time to time at a location or on a vehicle where Presto is not available.
We already know that the majority of fares are paid via Metropasses, and until the system can replace this functionality with Presto, that much valued block of riders and their transactions will stubbornly remain with the older but simpler technology.
Regional fare integration would be much easier with everyone using Presto, but the prerequisite is that moving away from existing fare media should not impose a burden, including an extra cost, on riders. The last thing Toronto needs is added complexity in the name of a regional goal.
At this point, Presto users are a minority on the TTC for a very good reason: the initial market has been restricted to users riding between Union Station and a few major locations downtown. Transfers were not an issue for this market.
The rollout team — be they from the TTC or from Presto — needs to get beyond this rather arrogant model of how the TTC works — that everyone wants to go to the subway and that surface routes (and connections between them) are relatively unimportant. This is a transit system where the majority of riding involves a surface route, connections may or may not occur at a fare paid area, and many trips do not use the subway at all.
Their mission should be to make the fare system simple — imagine explaining all of the permutations to would-be riders when even a dozen major routes have been converted, but not the entire system. Recognize that transfers or fare receipts will be essential until the entire system no longer requires them, if only for “take one in case” behaviour. Make it as easy as possible to obtain them — don’t design vehicle interiors on the assumption that only a few people will need a fare receipt.
This is probably asking a lot, but the next time someone at Presto says that I don’t know what I’m talking about, send them to this article.
I assumed that once fully implemented Presto would track transfers not unlike how card checking is done on Go trains. An officer wands my presto card and is able to immediately determine whether my card is legitimate. Perhaps I am thinking too Abstractly, but I assumed that someone would flash their card at the reader while entering a vehicle on the transfer and Presto would know that a transfer is possible. But then that would be a lot of data back-and-forth maybe there’s not enough capacity for that. A few guards Waving a wand on even a dozen go trains doesn’t compare to thousands or tens of thousands of transactions per hour.
Steve: Much depends on the fare type that a rider is using. If they are pay-as-you-play (single fares), then they should only need to tap in to the FIRST TTC vehicle/station they use. From that point on, they would have a two hour fare (presuming this is implemented) on their card that an inspector could easily check. The inspector does not need to know “how they got there”, only that the current time is within 2 hours of the initial tap. If they are a monthly (or weekly) pass user, they really shouldn’t need to tap anywhere there isn’t a barrier. If challenged, their card will show that they have a “pass equivalent” fare on it.
There is a fetish in some transit circles for having passengers tap as often as possible for tracking/planning purposes. The idea is to move people, not to create queues. Of course, if the real purpose of all of those taps is to validate cards as often as possible, then just say so, plan for the volume, and don’t give us this bilge about planning and trip tracking.
In some presentations at TTC, we have heard about barrier free stations, and at other times we hear about tracking data. Pick a story. Stick to it.
What kills me is the addition of the new on-street fare boxes on Spadina: who had the gall to install those without adding a Presto reader to them. Where’s the logic?
If the entire system is in theory going to use Presto one day, why not make it mandatory that all “new” devices be fully functional? Shaking my head
I’d add another permutation…if you are arriving via airplane…
1) Get a Presto card, you can use it to get downtown
– via the UPX
– can’t use it to get to the subway via the rocket
– likely can’t use it on most of the rest of your visit
2) Get a ticket via mobile app, you can use it to get downtown
– via the UPX
– can’t use it to get to the subway via the rocket
– can’t be used anywhere else
3) Get a weekly pass/tokens (assuming there is somewhere at the airport you can buy them), you can use it to get downtown
– via the subway/rocket
– not via the UPX
– it can be used anywhere on the TTC
– not on GO
4) Pay with cash you can use it to get downtown
– likely not via the UPX (without getting a presto)
– via TTC
– can’t use GO (need Presto)
Why doesn’t the TTC and/or Presto simply tell non-metropass users to ALWAYS obtain a transfer no matter what the nature of their trip is? Is providing transfers to every non-pass user really a significant cost to the TTC?
Steve: That would (a) require far more interactions with both the Presto machine and the transfer machine (which are not side by side) and (b) would undermine the idea that Presto is the most convenient of fare modes. If the TTC switches to PoP in 2015 for the whole network, “always take a transfer” will become the norm for non-pass riders just as it is today on the Queen car. The problem is less one of cost than of the time needed to serve customer demand with only two machines to serve a car with four doors and a working capacity of at least 150. To add to the problem, the “transfer machine” also serves customers paying with cash or tokens.
TL;DR: Just get a transfer.
One thing I wonder is once the cross-downtown streetcars get Presto, if you transfer to the subway if you will still need a transfer or if the transfer will be held on the card? To clarify, in York Region when I transfer to another bus and tap my card, it detects that I have tapped within the last two hours and does not deduct another fare.
Even now, one should be able to tap on at a Presto enabled station, transfer to GO, and then transfer back on to the TTC at a Presto enabled entrance without paying an extra fare (example: tap on at Kipling, get off at Dundas West, transfer on to GO at adjacent Bloor station, tap back on at Union without having a fare deducted). SHOULD being the key word here. In other regions, Presto handles GO transfer discounts flawlessly.
Steve: TL;DR indeed — that was the idea — the situation is far more complex than Presto lets on, probably because they don’t understand the system and the travel patterns of TTC riders. Yes, you should be able to use your Presto card to enter a subway station, although with the current transfer rules, I don’t know if these have been programmed into Presto’s logic. It has been well-understood that Presto implementation on the TTC really requires a move to time-based fares to simplify Presto’s logic and avoid the need for it to “decide” if your trip is a valid combination of links (especially when some of them are non-Presto).
It is not yet clear whether this change will actually occur in Toronto because it has an associated cost, one that some mayoral candidates, including John Tory, did not want to absorb. We could be stuck with a penny-pinching Council forcing the TTC to operate with its old transfer rules while attempting to use a technology that cannot support them.
This is what happens when you have four years of good news, smile-for-the-cameras, look-at-our-clean-stations politics, and no attention to basic operational details.
A strict “within 2 hours of the initial tap” rule will be an endless source of grief for passengers and fare inspectors alike. “But officer, I can normally make it from X to Y before my fare expires. Traffic was just really bad today.” Inspectors will need to exercise a considerable amount of discretion in the enforcement of such a rule.
The “tap on every vehicle entry” method (which happens to be used in such exotic places as Ottawa) provides a much simpler enforcement rule. The fare is validated at time of entry to the vehicle, and upon fare inspection the reader only needs to check if the card was tapped onto the current vehicle. The transfer window is relaxed from “must complete trip within 2 hours” to “must board last vehicle within 2 hours” — sure to please those heading to the far reaches of the city. I suspect there would be little net impact on fare revenue given the reduced potential for riders to “lose track of time” on their fares.
Steve: That model fails for the many places where there is a free transfer between routes (subway stations) that do not and will not have facilities for a “tap on” when that change is made. Requiring that this be done will greatly add to congestion both in loading vehicles and in locations that now have free flow between routes.
I can see a real desire to get the tap on tap off, to allow for real data collection in terms of actual origin and destination. However, this only really becomes interesting when Presto users represent a even distributed sample of TTC riders, or virtually all TTC riders.
I expect someone will develop a system with RFID tags on a rider card, with the wider field tags and readers where it could be done on a walk by basis. I can see developing a system where phones were loaded or wide field RFID tags on cards were read in a walk through line, where the user was not even removing their cards from their wallets or purse. The system would be able to then work like some cars where you never remove your keys from your pocket. This would then allow for the data collection, without the need to slow riders on the way by. However, please, let us not introduce this as a government driven made in Ontario solution.
You don’t necessarily need to force a tap when transferring from bus/streetcar to subway (or more generally, from any POP vehicle to a fare-controlled zone). You can do random fare inspections on riders exiting vehicles as you see today at Spadina. Granted, this would allow a rider to stretch their 2 hour fare even further.
However, under the “tap per vehicle” model you do need the tap upon entering a POP vehicle to establish that the fare is valid for the duration of the trip on that vehicle. With card readers at all doors this should not significantly slow down boarding. It seems to work well enough in Ottawa which has some pretty respectable passenger loads.
Steve: So we would have a double standard for subway riders who wouldn’t tap in when making their connection. This is still an arrangement of convenience, not to mention confusing for riders going in the opposite direction subway-to-surface.
Don’t forget also that the two hours allows stopovers and doubling back on one’s route.
The whole POP/all-door boarding thing on the Queen car is very inconsistent, because about 50% of the time I go to the back doors expecting to board there (with a transfer of course), only to find that the driver won’t open them. As for non-pass riders always taking a transfer, there are still plenty of drivers who enjoy the petty power trip of not handing you a transfer until you ask for it (or indeed acknowledging you in any way), and will let you continue without taking one. So, is this actually a POP route all the time, and is it supposed to be all-door boarding all the time, or are there exceptions that I haven’t figured out yet? I’m aware that it was only for rush hour when it started, but I keep reading that it’s supposed to operate that way all the time now – and it certainly doesn’t. It’s very confusing.
The issue of tapping or not at every stage of a multi-leg trip raises a some further questions:
If you transfer at a point where the vehicle you are boarding or the subway station you are entering has a Presto reader, do you hold/show your existing transfer from the first leg of your trip or do you tap again? How is the system set up exactly right now? (I assume it also changes if time-based fares are implemented.) If you tap again do you take another transfer and are you even entitled/allowed to? Will the system allow or prevent this? Does the system track multiple taps like this or are you always at risk that it will erroneously deduct an extra fare? Do you then get forced through the often slow booth line-up at subway stations in order to avoid the risk of a doubled-up fare deduction via the Presto-enabled turnstile?
All of this is making my head spin wildly. I expect it would be a challenge to get a proper and consistent answer about these things from the on-board Reps, or any other Rep for that matter.
Oh, and one other thing – What happens when a vehicle becomes disabled or short-turns, or there’s a subway shutdown? What of the need then to issue unplanned transfers or emergency transfers? Who will issue them and how? How is your Presto status verified in this situation? All this aside, how do you handle communication and the needs of a full passenger load of an LFLRV in the event they must all leave the vehicle unplanned?
I think I need a ‘better way’ to describe my head spinning…
Is a two hour window adequate for the TTC? The service area is so large that it’s possible to have legitimate trips that exceed two hours in length when traveling to fairly remote locations. For example, depending on where you start from, by the time you get to Kipling and then ride the 192 Airport express to Pearson or 191 up to Humber’s north campus, you could be travelling for over two hours after paying your fare before factoring any delays. Would a 2.5 or 3 hour window work better to cover off the long trips even though there would be a slight cost associated with people going to lengths to cram in an extra trip in the additional 30 or 60 minutes beyond two hours?
Steve: A two-hour window is already used in other parts of the GTHA, and is almost certain to be adopted as a common value for regional fare integration. This will mean that some trips now within the “416” will require a supplementary fare, but many that now cross the 904-416 boundary would be at a lower fare. The alternative is a zone system which is much more complex to understand and administer.
A few comments about various things said above, based on my experience with YRT’s two-hour fare that started in September 2005, and more recently with Presto.
The introduction of the two-hour fare by YRT coincided with the start of of VIVA service, which used POP instead of pay-as-you-enter on their other bus routes. When using VIVA, fare could be paid by cash or ticket using a TVM at the stop. For cash, a receipt with a time expiry, exactly two hours in the future, was issued by the TVM. For tickets, the ticket is cancelled at the TVM and an expiry, exactly two hours in the future is printed on the ticket and the ticket became a transfer/receipt.
One problem with this was that the printing on the ticket often became hard-to-read, so YRT implemented a procedure where when one transferred to a regular route with a VIVA-franked ticket, they would put it in the farebox and the operator would issue a paper transfer. Of course, this meant that the passenger would get more than just two hours of travel. This was more or less the standard back when cut-paper transfers were issued as the operator would, more often than not, set the expiry time more than two hours into the future to avoid having to change it every fifteen minutes. I once recall getting a transfer at 4:30 pm with a 9 pm expiry time on it.
When Presto went into full service, transfers were issued by the operator’s Presto terminal and now everyone had exactly two hours from the time fare was paid.
On pay-as-you-enter routes, the transfer need only be valid at the time of entry. Similarly, if using Presto, the tap when boarding tells the operator you have paid your fare and it will not deduct any balance if you have a valid two-hour period still in effect. On a POP route, the fare is supposed to be in effect for the entire trip until you step off the vehicle. That said, the primary function of fare inspection has been to catch those who are just avoiding fare payment altogether or trying to get way more than two hours out of their fare. I have twice been on VIVA and been inspected while holding a fare that expired during the trip. The first was pre-Presto and I had a cut-paper transfer and there was no issue. The second was with Presto and the hand-held units normally operate in a quick-check mode where tapping your card gives a pass-fail indication with a red or green light and two tones that sound like something from a TV game show. When it fails, indicating no two-hour period is in effect on your card as mine did that one time, the inspector hits a few keys and has you re-tap your card so that he can look at the recent use. In my case, he could see that it had just ran out, so all was good.
There is one issue on YRT that pertains directly to the issue facing the TTC with a slow roll-out of Presto: vehicles with and without Presto terminals. While it is true that, like other 905 transit agencies, YRT implemented Presto on all of their buses, the problem has existed and continues to exist that routes contracted to the TTC operate without Presto terminals. A great number of regular users of these routes tend to only use YRT for commuting to and from work, so they likely use passes or tickets and have no incentive to use Presto. However, a Presto user cannot (officially) use these routes as a paper transfer is needed when transferring from YRT to the TTC-contracted route otherwise an additional YRT fare must be paid. Officially, YRT operators are not supposed to issue paper transfers to Presto users, though I have been fortunate enough on the odd occasion to have an operator who would issue one. Though, I needed to convince him or her that the TTC contracted vehicles did not have a Presto terminal on board.
YRT’s response when asked about this: You have to use cash or tickets when starting a trip that requires a TTC-contracted route, you cannot use Presto. This means either paying $4 cash or going out and purchasing 10 tickets for $33. Granted, there are not likely many users in this situation, but it is not only inconvenient from a cost point of view, but the transit tax credit is available to Presto users when they use 32 fares in a month, and a few trips that need another media could prevent a whole month of usage from getting the tax credit.
Though having customers tap in and out of every vehicle would certainly produce useful trip data I am sure that this would never actually be analysed. You, Steve, have the intelligence, skills and time to use the TTC’s existing data to examine routes and identify patterns and problems; there has never been any evidence that the TTC itself does this (or even pays much attention to the detailed analyses you provide.) The quantity of data from “tap-at-every-vehicle” would be huge and that alone would probably deter analysis. (And one must remember that any TTC (or Presto) data will only show usage of public transit; it will not show how the passenger got to the start point or left the finish point. (Car, bike, walking.)
Steve: Actually, the TTC is now building a system to analyze its data and you will hear TTC management speak of “Customer Journey Time Metrics”. Underlying this is an analytical engine that digests operational data from routes and provides some info similar to the things I have published. This is a recent project started in the last year.
What will the incentive be for riders to tap off when leaving a streetcar or bus or subway station? On GO, if you don’t tap off, you are charged either your default trip, or the maximum possible journey you could have made. With a flat two-hour fare, there is not likely to be a “default” trip for TTC users, and what’s supposed to happen if they don’t tap off?
Also, I don’t really agree that Toronto should use the two hour standard. I routinely commuted where the morning trip was under two hours, but the evening return trip would routinely exceed that. The only way I think it would really be fair would be if there was total region-wide integration, with “two hours” applying to all systems that you used during that time. That would be a zone system of sorts, where the zone is simply how far you can travel via public transit in two hours.
Several years ago, they changed it so Queen was POP only between 7AM and 7PM everyday.
Steve: But even at that, there are locations and times when operators choose to use conventional pay-as-you-enter rules.
I was in Montreal Monday and Tuesday, and being me, I had to buy an OPUS Card. I was disappointed that it was not a stored value card, but a stored individual fare card. I bought (but didn’t use) 10 $3.00 fares for just over $25.00 (Plus $6.00 for the card, which expires in 5 years). However, on one of my journeys I was going to Laval and was advised that my OPUS card’s stored fares would not work to get on the Metro in Laval. I lined up and gave the attendant $3.00 for a paper ticket. It is not just the GTA that is unnecessarily complicated.
PS: I hope to use the rest of my fares on a subsequent journey. I also read an unnecessarily complicated procedure about how to trade an expired $6 card for a two ride (@ $3.00) ticket.
Well, you do not get on the 501 anywhere from, I don’t know Broadview to Neville without showing pass or transfer at all times of the day and night. Once in a while all doors are opened at KR when the previous car short turned and dropped a pile of people, but in the last 20 years, all 501 travel in the Beach is board at front doors only and pay or show transfer 24 hours a day.
I must say, OPUS and the STM have made fares pretty seemless in Montreal, at least from a visitor’s perspective. Resident/regular visitor? Buy OPUS at the collector’s booth/service centre and load a single fare. From there, add your 1/3/7 day pass, monthly, single or fancier fares on at a ton of locations. One off visit? Get a paper Occasional card, good for 1 or 3 day passes.
I mean, if we got paper Presto and a combined UPX/TTC day pass for $12, every visitor would buy it. Now if only UPX was free for Metropass users…
I have to disagree with the word alternative. YRT currently uses a 2-hour transfer AND has three zones. The charge for crossing a zone boundary is an additional $1. This is implemented reasonably well, though there are some changes I would make to make it easier for the Presto user.
There is a little more complexity in that one is supposed to know prior to crossing a zone boundary that one will need to pay the upgrade. Technically, once a vehicle has crossed the boundary and one has not paid the upgrade, then one has not paid the proper fare. That said, it is also a technicality that this is really only an issue on a POP route. If one forgets and then attempts to tap on a vehicle or a station terminal in the new zone, one must inform the operator that they need a 2-zone fare. The operator hits a button and when the tap occurs, the passenger is only charged the $1 upgrade. At a VIVA station, one must press the zone upgrade button first before tapping.
If this procedure is not done, the system will charge a whole new fare. One of my philosophies of software systems is that they should not make the user have to perform procedures they wouldn’t otherwise have to do, and this is one of them. The tap-on in the new zone should automatically charge just the upgrade if a 2-hour period is in effect for another zone.
When questioned about this, YRT explained that since the user is supposed to pay the upgrade before a vehicle enters the new zone, this “prevents” people trying to avoid the fare upgrade. This is a BS response for three reasons: First, it doesn’t prevent anything since the user who is on their final vehicle for the trip will not be tapping again. Second, it doesn’t simply get the $1 upgrade charge out of the odd person continuing their trip on another vehicle, but takes a whole $3.30. Finally, if someone makes a legitimate trip that begins and ends in the same zone, then through walking or getting a ride to be dropped off at a stop in another zone within the 2-hour fare time, they should not have to be aware of the need to perform a different procedure.
Aside from that issue, the zone fare system works pretty well without being overly confusing. The one other thing about YRT’s implementation is that zone boundaries are “wide”, meaning that neighbouring zones have an overlap zone. No upgrade is needed to cross into the overlap zone from either of the two zones. This makes the fare system a little more equitable for people with short trips. Compare this with a commuter that must travel on a TTC-contracted route for 2 km with Steeles Avenue in the middle of that trip.
Finally, there have been a number of posters who wonder if a 2-hour fare is sufficient for TTC users. The 2-hour fare works pretty well out in the 905 where much of the service runs on a 30-50 minute headway. If transit use that can result in added waiting time for connections, it can work well with more congestion but better headways (and some would argue that 905 congestion is as bad, if not worse, than 416 congestion).
My early experience with time-based transfers was on systems with 90-minute transfers such as Vancouver, San Francisco, and even London Ontario. I found this to be a great way to use transit. Oddly, once the 2-hour fare was introduced on YRT and I had used it for a while, my next trip to Vancouver had me feeling that the 90-minute transfer expired far too quickly. I suspect it is all a matter of what one is used to. 🙂
When I lived in Toronto I took the TTC regularly. I seldom purchased a Metropass because I didn’t use the service everyday. I always took a transfer, just in case I needed to change my route home. Since I moved to Durham Region I haven’t ridden much. When I see the various permutations of transfer rules payment rules and vehicle entry options now proliferating, I’m not sure that I want to use the service even occasionally. It’s just too complicated for the once-in-awhile rider and pity the poor visitor to Toronto. I’ll take the car and put up with the congestion when I come to town.
Pay fare, take transfer, complete trip. It’s not complicated. Sure, there are times you can get away without taking a transfer, but if you want simple, always take a transfer.
There’s nothing complicated about transfer rules. You can transfer anywhere a route intersects. You can only make a single trip, but it could be from the Toronto Zoo to Centennial Park if you want. The rules haven’t changed in decades …
Steve: Yes, but the process of getting a transfer has become more complicated. If we move to PoP system wide, the “always take a transfer” rule will be even more important. Where confusion arises today is from attempts to dissuade people from taking transfers if they “don’t need” one, something a casual user cannot possible know.
I’ve never found those visiting me suffer from any confusion, other than where to legally park a car overnight.
Steve: It is amazing how easy it is to get a ticket for illegal overnight parking, and how hard it is to keep major streets clear during the daytime. Priorities are screwed up.
I live in Toronto and work in Mississauga — as part of my commute I pay four fares per day. Right now, three of them can be paid with Presto, and the system works pretty seamlessly. The fourth still requires me to line up for tokens.
I also agree that the TTC will need to work out its transfer and all-door boarding policies before Presto can be successfully implemented. E.g. right now there is “de facto” all-door boarding on the Dufferin bus at Dufferin Station with no inspection in sight (there were inspectors for a while) — this seems to be an unofficial policy and is not communicated clearly anywhere, at least that I can see.
Starting Friday December 5 and continuing until December 17 PRESTO will be installing machines on the island stops on Spadina ROW between College and King as well as Queens Quay ROW.
Steve: Good to hear.
Moaz: under the current system you could do that but you would have to pay the GO fare *and* tap off at Union Train Station before tapping on at Union Subway Station.
I have a PRESTO card for the convenience of not having to carry 2 or 3 (MiWay, GO and TTC … which I used to carry when studying at U of T) types of fare media plus small change (to pay the MiWay-GO co-fare). I’m not actually getting any huge savings with PRESTO. In Mississauga for example (where I spend the bulk of my time) I can often get more time off a paper transfer since drivers often pad the times up to 30 minutes (depending on the driver and route). But then I have to hold on to the transfer and ensure I don’t toss it our with any other scraps of paper I might have in my pocket.
I personally don’t mind the extra tapping if it does not cause a great inconvenience and if it is matched with cheaper fares.
I traveled in Singapore regularly while I lived in Malaysia and tapping off at exits on Singapore buses and trains with my EZ-LINK card was fast and easy. Of course they are many generations ahead of PRESTO 2.whatever so tapping on/off is a lightning fast process.
Steve: Part of “lightning fast” involves having enough machines so that there is no waiting, let alone no need to fight through the crowd inside a vehicle to get to another machine to dispense a “transfer”.
If I board at Kipling with my PRESTO Card with the intention of boarding a flexity at Spadina Station, do I have to tap the reader again or is my one fare good? Should I get a transfer just in case?
Also if I forget to get a transfer at Kipling can I tap on to a PRESTO reader on a Flexity car and then get a transfer from the TTC transfer machine? Is that going to require a triple tap?
Joe Q: Why not just buy a GTA Pass? It’s $56.00. It’s a huge deal considering it can be used on 4 systems.
The GTA pass price rarely increases too.
I have some serious concerns about the 2 hour time window. If you live in the North West, North East or South East regions of the city and Presto is implemented on city-wide vehicles, it is very possible that due to habitual delays in the TTC that 2 hours may not be enough time for travel especially if you have to take 2 buses, a subway and a streetcar to get downtown. Do you think the 2 hour rule would be reviewed when Presto is implemented city-wide?
Steve: More generally, this will bring up the issue of just how much transit someone should get for one fare. The problem inevitably will arise if there are still separate, even if overlapping, zones with the 905 systems but Toronto stays as one big zone. Also, there is inevitably a trade-off. If we want a two-hour fare so that people can make multiple short trips for one fare, this is going to affect people who make very long trips on the existing system. I am sure that this will be presented as a downtown-vs-suburbs issue again, even though in fact many in the suburbs would benefit from the discount for short there-and-back trips.
Forty years ago, Toronto got rid of “zone 2” because the suburban pols felt everyone should pay the same fare, and that a double fare (actually about a 60% premium) for less-than-ideal service in zone 2 was not justified.
This will be a fascinating debate because if we went back to zones, it would almost certainly make downtown-only travel cheaper, precisely the opposite of what we want to do in encouraging better transit use for longer trips.
What a mess. (If) Metropasses are ever abolished, will a Presto provision be in place which has the same (lump sum, unlimited travel on TTC) function? Otherwise, I would suggest there are a very large number in people for whom Presto will (always) be absolutely useless.
Steve: A monthly pass is supposed to survive into the Presto world. That said, I would not be surprised that if Queen’s Park forces some sort of regional scheme on all systems, we may wind up with some other variation such as a capped price at “n” trips which provides equivalent functionality. The problem, of course, is that this forces “pass” holders to tap everywhere even though they don’t strictly need to.
Perhaps you don’t know Toronto’s transit system as well as you think. If you are wrong, then you just have to accept it and not make a big deal about by starting a blog article. Presto is a new generation thing, I am sure that you knew the system inside out back in your heydays but the system has changed a lot since then and continues to change.
Steve: And if you’re so smart, please illustrate where my article is wrong. I’m sorry that I am not being wonderfully warm and supportive and non-critical the way Metrolinx would love all of its critics to be, but there are things about the Presto rollout that are just plain wrong. What’s more, I have yet to hear any discussion of the implications of proposed changes to the fare and transfer regulations. Metrolinx and the TTC talk a good deal about a customer-centric view of their system, but they don’t think through (or choose to ignore) the real world implications.
In Germany, POP works — because the penalties for riding without a fare are *really really expensive*. So it may be one in a thousand, but if it costs a thousand euros when you get caught …
*Sigh* The simplest fare system is to have nothing but day passes (and longer).
San Diego keeps it fairly simple by having the day pass be the cost of two trolley tickets (50 cents more than two bus tickets), and eliminating all other forms of transfer. Of course, they have the benefit of a unified agency, so there’s no argument over how to split up the funding from the day passes.
For people concerned with 2 hours not being long enough if they are making a trip spanning the entire breadth of the City, I’d like to know how many of those trips involve a transfer at the penultimate mile at or beyond the 2-hour limit? Aside from YRT’s VIVA service (and GO Transit for different reasons) no other agency has fare inspections. You are free to use any PRESTO-enabled 905 transit agency plus Ottawa’s as long as time remains from your original tap. Each time you tap on a vehicle it displays how much time is left on your transfer.
In the event you make a transfer after your 2-hour window has expired it will simply charge you another fare and give you another 2-hour window. It’s no problem if you’re on board a vehicle after your window has expired. Using transit in 905 with the stopover option one needs to be aware of connections and alternate routes if you don’t want to pay a second fare for overstaying, but there are plenty of apps to help you figure that out.
In the TTC’s case with fare-paid transfer zones, I say keep the 2-hour limit. The clock starts ticking when you first tap on. It may spur customers to demand better service from the TTC to avoid getting penalized for a 2+ hour trip. Extending your trip by using a route out of a fare-paid station (which shouldn’t require you to tap on again) is probably a trade-off the TTC will need to consider in exchange for people being able to make multiple trips in any direction on the same fare. Similarly, and I’ve seen this happen on 905 transit as well, obtaining a transfer at a station (or in the 905 case from someone on board) to extend your window is something that everyone will have to live with.
Plus it’s hard to evade the fare inspectors, as opposed to hopping off the vehicle when you see a special constable at the next stop.
I still remember seeing a fare inspection in Berlin 20+ years ago. The U-Bahn pulled into the station and stopped, but the doors did not immediately open. 20 seconds later the doors opened and through each door came a pair of inspectors and a police dog! (German police; serious-looking dobermans.) Nobody got off that car without either providing proof of payment or receiving a DM 500 fine.
Little bit different to how it’s handled here.
Fantastic news! Any details on exactly what these machines will look like? Are we talking about replacing the current red machines with the gray/touchscreen ones just installed on the LFLRVs, and having a Presto payment device, i.e. the ones installed at the doors, attached to it ? If so, that would be a pretty significant and important improvement – Presto users at a stop with the new device installed could tap on the payment device, then tap to receive a paper ticket/transfer right there as well, and board even a CLRV having paid by Presto!
On a related note, per the official Presto Card twitter account, the debit/credit tap payment on the fare payment machines on the LFLRVs “will be enabled in 2015”. That will be a very welcome and long-overdue upgrade.
Not quite. That’s what makes transfer rules complicated! You can transfer between two routes that DO NOT intersect if:
1) There is a GO trip in between. EG, take TTC to Long Branch GO station. Take GO to Union. Then one can legally use the transfer to get on board the subway at Union. But good luck if one encounters a TTC employee who does not understand this rule. 🙂
2) A “walking transfer” where the routes don’t intersect, but come close. For example, transferring from the 94 Wellesley bus to Museum Station.
When will Presto release some data? I would like to see:
What percentage of GO riders transfer to the subway at Union (on inbound trips)?
What percentage of GO riders transfer to a local transit system (e.g. MiWay) on outbound trips?
Steve: I very much doubt Presto will ever release data like this.
Quite. One of those things I will never understand is how it is anything short of fraudelent for the TTC to have a fare dispute policy that states that in the event of an operator’s mistake you are required to pay another fare anyway. It wouldn’t bother me so much but for the frequency of problems with some of those odder cases and the utterly hostile approach of a decent number of staff.
Steve: And heaven forbid that you pull up the relevant page on your smart phone and say “see, it’s right here”. I still run into disputes with TTC staff about taking photos even though there are two separate places on their site where the TTC explicitly says that photography for personal, non-commercial use is allowed.
@Justin Bernard: The GTA weekly pass looks great but doesn’t quite make financial sense for me.
I live in Ottawa and I agree with Steve. There is indeed a fetish about taping on every step of the way. And it’s useless and slows down boardings. You have door blockers on artics who also block the Presto readers on the back doors and even asking them politely will not make them budge, so you have to manually move them (already there have been altercations over that). On 40 foot buses it slows down as well as RFID is a really slow system (don’t forget this is late 50’s technology that has barely moved).
Metrolinx also confirmed to Ottawa City Council that the system is not setup to offer realtime confirmation. Meaning that when a fare enforcement officer checks your Presto card it will see that you have a transfer or a pass but not which vehicle you actually boarded. That reconciliation happens a few times a week depending on the transit agency’s requirement; so it doesn’t even matter how often the vehicles communicate with the back-office system. So taping each step of the way is useless. According to OC Transpo rules when I pay a single fare (Cash, ticket or Presto) I have 90 minutes weekdays or 105 minutes evenings and weekends to use the system in any direction (return trips incl). So what does it matter that I checked my fare against the Presto reader when the system won’t know for several days after the fact that I actually boarded bus #6445?
Enough with this, make it POP and stop the nonsense. OC Transpo doesn’t want to admit but through ATIP it has been reported by media that the schedules had to be stretched to accommodate the fact that using Presto slows you down.
When I was in London a few years ago they had the requirement that you tap at many transfer points between tube lines but there were a lot of readers in the passage ways between line and no one seemed to be slowed down. Most just held the purse, wallet of pocket near a reader as they walked by and it gave an audible beep if it read your card. The penalty for not tapping was that the rides would not be counted into your daily, weekly or monthly total for maximum charge but would be charged above and beyond that. It seemed to make people tap and did not slow anyone down. I did not ride their buses so do not know the effect on them.
Steve: There are two points here. First, there were enough readers to handle the volume of taps, and I suspect that they were strategically located to avoid taking people out of their way. Second, they were set to read at a distance, not from a physical touch to the reader face. Both of these make huge differences in usability. However, reading at a distance has security implications, not to mention political issues about privacy.
You could tie yourself in knots forever explaining every piece of minutia to a visitor to Toronto (which was the concern). But by applying “Keep it simple, stupid” you just tell them you can use the transfer anywhere routes intersect, rather than burdening them with detail that will only confuse them and is likely not relevant.
Steve: Precisely! The Presto rep was trying to give the impression that using their card was simple because all one had to do is tap on with the presumption that the majority of riders are headed to the subway. This might be valid northbound, but southbound is another matter. In any event, in trying to show how “simple” Presto is, this quickly evolved into the “except for” situations where a transfer was also needed (which, by the way, the rep did not fully comprehend not being a regular TTC user).