Because of potential disruption in Canada Post services, the TTC has announced that it will end the mailing of Metropasses to Monthly Discount Plan (MDP) customers effective immediately. For the months of November and December 2018, the TTC will credit accounts of customers who would receive these passes with the equivalent of the discount.
This will allow those still receiving MDP passes to purchase a regular Metropass while having a net cost equal to the MDP value.
The TTC is also encouraging MDP customers to shift to Presto cards and will provide a $6 credit to MDP users on November 1 to cover the cost of purchasing a new card.
The use of physical Metropasses as we know them will end on December 31, 2018, and only the Presto equivalents will continue.
Tickets and tokens will remain available until the start of August 2019, and will be honoured for an as-yet unspecified time thereafter.
Does anyone know when or how they are going to migrate day passes to Presto? I’ll be interested to see how they deal with the weekend/holiday group passes.
It would be nice if TTC adopted a system like what is used in Portland OR (and maybe elsewhere?) where the electronic fare system automatically gives you a day pass once you have spent as much on single-use fares as you would on a day pass. If I’m not mistaken, TriMet also does monthly passes this way.
Steve: Presto has had the ability to cap daily fare for some time, but the TTC just has not gotten around to turning it on. Cynically, I might observe that the next time the Mayor needs a photo op, we can expect to see this. That is how Day Passes will be handled.
As for the group pass on weekends and special periods such as Christmas week, they will no longer be available.
Do you know if the TTC has said how they’ll handle the premium-fare downtown express buses after a phase-out of physical media?
Steve: That’s a future Presto enhancement that has not yet been implemented. It’s an obvious requirement to get rid of the Premium Express pass sticker. I don’t know how they will deal with this during the interim period while some legacy media are still in use, but will ask.
Updated: Brad Ross has replied via Twitter:
I’m guessing that the “weekend/holiday group passes” on Presto would need programming to “connect” individual Presto cards together. If they “connected” Presto cards are used on the same surface vehicle or station, then the programming would “assume” they are a “group”.
Well, Presto has the ability to allow for time based transfers, but it took until August 26, 2018 for the TTC to use that ability. The TTC has shown that it doesn’t know what it’s doing with Presto, despite it being a good technology that works well. What customers do not need is one fare payment option for the TTC and another for every other transit system in the GTA. I am not saying that they should necessarily get rid of cash payments, and tokens/tickets but the TTC can, and should, be using Presto to its fullest potential.
Steve: The basic problem is that many on the TTC Board and in management regard any kind of discounted fare as a “loss” rather than as an essential part of the fare structure. If they had their way, everyone would pay a full cash fare and more to save precious taxpayer dollars on the subsidy. Presto could have been made a lot more attractive if the “goodies” like two-hour fare and a day-pass-equivalent had been rolled out early as an incentive for people to shift. Instead these were seen as potential losses until, of course, someone needed a photo op.
It is very inconvenient using presto on the TTC because the machine does not show the remaining balance of your card like Miway or GO transit. I’m hoping TTC will implement that in the future.
Steve: The TTC claims that this is a privacy issue because there would have to be an audible readout for people who have vision problems or cannot see the reader for some reason. Why this cannot be an option that users could turn on or off is beyond me. I understand that the TTC is reviewing their position on the question, but I’m not holding my breath for a change.
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Has the TTC given any thought to a weekly pass the would “initiate” on whatever day it was “activated”, instead of the Sunday to Saturday pass that now exists? This would be a real plus for tourists and at no cost to the TTC.
Steve: I have not heard of anything like this. I suspect that they will be content with “automatic” Day Passes implemented by fare capping.
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With 2-hour transfers, I wonder realistically how much demand there now would be for a day-pass.
It was easy enough to rack up the $ back when you would take a vehicle a few stops, get off, and get on 15-minutes later after stopping somewhere- or popping in and out of the subway.
With a day pass costing $12.50 compared to $12 for 4 Presto fares … it’s only the 5th 2-hour period where you get the savings!
Steve: With a Day Pass implemented as a fare cap, combined with the two hour transfer, this will be a real boon to people who have occasional days filled with TTC trips, but not enough monthly to warrant paying for a Metropass up front. Now if only we could have monthly capping like on GO Transit so that a pass, per se, wasn’t needed, and people didn’t have to pay the whole shot for a pass up front. This would address a big problem in the low income community.
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Enough so that I’ve decided not to sign up for the monthly pass on Presto. As a current Metropass subscriber, my trips to and from work alone aren’t enough to cover the cost of a monthly pass (even with the 12-month discounted rate), and the few additional round trips I take outside of work usually fall within the two hour limit anyway. I’ve calculated potential savings of approx $15 – $20 per month, so I’m going to take the plunge and forego the monthly pass for now.
Steve: It will be interesting as Presto becomes more the “standard” way people pay for transit what will happen to the “average fare”, assuming of course that the TTC can figure out how to calculate this or define what one “trip” is compared to existing travel stats.
The CTA in Chicago had when I was last there a 1 and 3 day pass and they started at the time you first got on a vehicle. If you got on at 10:45 on a Monday, the 1 day pass was good for boarding until 10:45 on Tues. and the 3 day pass until 10:45 on Thurs.
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Going even further why not a monthly pass (Metropass) that starts on any day of the month and is valid for the next 30 days? All those lineups at the end and beginning of each month are completely unnecessary. Let me a buy a monthly pass on 15th of October which is valid until the 14th of November (inclusive). Better yet, let me pick the start date…let’s say I know I’m away for a week, let me buy a pass which will start on the day I come back.
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Pardon my ignorance but how is a verbal readout of the balance a privacy issue? If you have a monthly pass it should make the same bleep it makes today. If you load money onto it and it reads the available balance out that tells me nothing about your personal situation. Maybe you enjoy putting $100 at a time on the card. Maybe you put three bucks on it. If it were to read out “thank you for paying with your FAIR pass discount” then that would be a privacy breach. Am I missing something?
Steve: I have heard the argument that a verbal readout could identify someone with a card worth stealing, but that is hardly “privacy” in the usual sense of that word. It is a mystery why the “privacy” rules work one way north of Steeles, and another way south of it.
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I have used my card on OC Transpo – things operate there slightly differently. First of all you only get a 5¢ discount using Presto, they still issue paper tickets to cash paying passengers and unlike the TTC all tickets cash or Presto have timed transfers. The day pass is issued as a paper ticket on the bus which you can pay for by using your Presto card, the tickets have a QR code and the fare gates on the O-train have a QR reader, can’t see the TTC investing in new readers for that, I’m not sure how that works for Family passes but Ottawa still issues them for Weekend/Holidays, whether that still holds when the Confederation Line opens.
I grew up an in Nottingham in the UK and at least yearly I visit. On the buses there you have the choices of two Presto like cards, one for the occasional riders where you purchase a number of days, you don’t have to use them consecutively, I have one and I was surprised I still had 5 days left when I went back over, so those days never expire. You just tap on the first bus and then it’s valid until about 5 am the next day. The other is for consecutive days, you can buy them in weekly blocks but the longer you buy for the bigger the discount, like Chicago they are valid from the time you first tap until the end of service on the xth day irrespective of the day of the month. There the readers will tell you how many days you have left, there it also have a green light for good, yellow for good but you are coming close to exhausting your card and of course red, card not valid. I don’t see why TTC can’t implement that, if your balance falls below a preset level the reader flashes yellow remind you need to load you card if you don’t use the auto-reload and if for visually impaired then a different audible sound for your balance is low, assuming you can hear it over the now extremely loud “84C Sheppard West to Steeles via Arrow Road” !!!
One thing I think will be a great boon especially to domestic visitors/tourists to the city will be the ability to pay using debit/credit cards like you can on London, you don’t need to get an Oyster card.
As for the fares themselves, TTC needs to implement the daily, weekly & monthly caps which could equate to the current cost of the respective pass, and as an option like in my city you can buy in weekly blocks which are valid for x number of consecutive days from the first tap-in. Would that be too simple?.
So these politician think I’m “stealing” from the system because I like to explore the system at weekends on my pass, I can also say I feel short changed on months where there are less than 31 days, especially in February. These politicians better realize after decades of short changing transit systems you have created gridlock, not only by cutting funding to providing service and allowing the sprawl to get so bad that providing transit to many areas is not viable. Give yourselves a big pat on the back for that. So what is the cost saving from cutting transit to dealing with gridlock instead?
Steve: The degree to which different options are available in other cities, notably those using Presto, shows how much of the Toronto situation is driven by bone-headed thinking at the TTC rather than by technology constraints. That said, Presto as an organization (and its parent Metrolinx) should be much more active in telling everyone about the menu of options available with their card if only the local pols and management would allow them to be used.
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“Privacy” has become a useful catch all excuse for anything a bureaucrat does not want to do. Over the years I have encountered many situations where a perfectly reasonable request was refused, supposedly to protect privacy. It is a useful excuse because “privacy” is considered to be a “very good thing” and any attempts to argue that privacy does not apply is met with ever louder and more emphatic repetitions of the virtues of respecting privacy.
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Passing through St. Andrew this weekend I’ve noticed the transfer printing machines were turned off and had signage indicating the removal of the machine was coming. The end of the free subway transfer isn’t far behind the standalone Metropass.
Steve: They are turned off on the side of the station where one can only enter with Presto or a Metropass, ergo no transfer. The other side, where people will still be paying with cash or tickets, will continue to need transfer machines.
I like Presto a lot. However, the reliability of the card readers are really troubling. How can the TTC talk about phasing out tickets, when the Presto machines do not work? There are so many buses that have Presto card readers flashing red. Some even have a green bag over it. How can people use Presto to pay for their fares?
It is funny that only TTC vehicles are affected by it. I have never been on a GO bus or even a Mississauga Transit bus where the reader does not work. A contactless reader does not have moving parts or water lines. How can a few thousand taps a day bring down these machines?
Well, perhaps that is the issue – TTC routes generally have much higher ridership than other systems, and as more and more people start using Presto on the TTC, the readers become more and more unreliable. Whatever the reason, it needs to be addressed soon. Ditto for the new subway entrance fare gates. I enter the subway to and from work through an automatic entrance, and I can’t remember a week where the new plastic doors werem’t jammed open at least once and I simply walked straight through. There’s obviously no cost issue to the TTC when someone with a Metropass does this, but with the change to Presto, it’s going to start costing the TTC a lot of lost fares.
To be fair it isn’t just the TTC that has issues.
Here are some more glaring examples:
I have gotten free rides from GO transit (buses) when their reader was down/non functional in the past although it appears to be less common now.
Speaking of GO transit: if you transfer from a train to a bus you need to tap off the train and tap on the bus. Even if the remaining trip will only cost you an incremental $2, if you don’t have at least $5 on your card you cannot transfer as it deducts the minimum fare amount and then credits you back when you tap off the bus… that means that having the exact fare required to make a train/bus trip on your Presto card won’t necessarily work.
When YRT removed zoned fare, you still need to press the “2 zone button” when riding through the former fare zones on VIVA otherwise the fare inspectors might read you as having not paid (allegedly)
If you tap on a regular fare YRT bus and then transfer to a premium fare YRT bus it actually doesn’t charge you the difference. It’s very convenient when there are Presto tap machines for VIVA and a premium fare bus leaving from the same spot.. not that I’m complaining. Although for all I know this might be intended.
There are other “features” apparently including how there is a difference in how one uses Presto to transfer from GO to UP express to the airport versus GO to UP express to something before the airport.
I understand it is the TTC intent to use credit cards or smart phones in the future as an alternative to Presto. These options do not have memory and therefore cannot track the balance. The balance will need to be calculated in the ‘back office’ and would not be available at the time of the tap.
Steve: In the case of credit cards, Presto’s intent is to charge the regular fare, not to use the card as a surrogate for having a Presto card itself. In this situation, there is no need to write data to the card. In the case of a Smart Phone, the intent is to have an app on the phone, and obviously this can keep track of and display a running balance.
When the TTC was considering a non-Presto system, the concept of an “identity card” was part of the design. In effect, you would register your credit card, or an app, as an identity card for your account, and all of the tracking of balances, etc, would occur in the back end. Presto has talked about shifting from processing at the card/reader level to the back end, but this requires a major re-engineering of the system.
Does that imply that credit-card taps charge a new fare for every transfer and won’t honour the eventual per-day caps, or will the back end remember enough data (card number and timestamp, I suppose) to handle those cases?
Steve: When you use a credit card, if the machine actually accepts it (I see refusals almost all the time), the machine issues a fare receipt, and that’s how “transfers” work. Obviously this does not give you admission to stations without an attendant and a “gate” that is open.
There are so many things in the implementation of Presto on the TTC I could scream about, and I’m sure that there is fairly equal measure of bad planning between both parties. The problem has always been in the “exceptions” to the standard payment system Presto was designed to handle. Another fine piece of Ontariariario technology. Almost up to Bill Davis standards.
The reasons presto and ttc fail is because it is all based on featherbedding jobs instead of adapting to the transportation market. I think we have to break up ttc and start over fresh. The last time I even used ttc was just a joy ride on a streetcar not really needing to get anywhere.
Steve: Remember that Presto is a provincial program, and a lot of its problems are due to poor design and reliability, not to the TTC. It’s easy to claim that this is all a matter of featherbedding, but if so it’s at least as much Queen’s Park’s fault. Putting a provincial agency in charge of transit will not fix the problems.