Monday, January 30, 2012

In the Year 2012: Presto Cards

Last Thursday, OC Transpo General Manager Alain Mercier presented the 2012 Business Plan to the Transit Commission. The 36-page document can be found here. Over the course of this week, we will look at this plan and pick out the highlights. Everything from operating costs to park and rides will be discussed.First, let's take a look at Presto.

As many of you are aware, Presto cards will be launching later this year to replace paper tickets and passes. These cards are transferable between anyone in the same fare group. For example, if you pay student fare, you may give your Presto card to another person who also pays the student fare – of course, you can't be on the bus or O-Train at the same time.

Another benefit with Presto is the different methods of payments you can choose to reload your card: internet, phone, mail, or in person. This should reduce the lengthy line-ups for passes each month. There is also an option to have your pass automatically purchased for the next month, which is adds to the convenience.

OC Transpo wants to simplify the system to two types of fares for students, adults, and seniors: single trip fares (similar to the existing ticket for less frequent travellers) and monthly passes. Since Presto does not use paper transfers, it might be difficult for most people to remember how much time is left on their single-fare.  The plan does not go into the specifics of how the whole fare system will be implemented. However, it might best for OC Transpo to install balance checkers at each Transitway station, on buses, and the O-Train.

Express fares will remain for express routes and the Day Pass, Family Pass, and U-Pass will continue. But, semester passes will be discontinued and the annual passes have stopped since December of last year. There was no mention of children's fare in the report but, it would make sense to have a fare for children, 6-11 years old, as they always have.

More on Presto can be found on OC Transpo's site and on Presto's site.


Anonymous said...

Once again the disabled are left behind These cards will NOT work on Paratransit so how much extra will paratransit users be forced to pay for the reduced service we endure

Anonymous said...

OK, where will these card readers be located? Oh right, at the front door of buses that are already overcrowded, meaning that loading will be further slowed down, further retarding service that is already over stressed. Non-payment of fares is one of the smaller problems OCtranspo faces. Watch sometime when the fare inspectors come around, or when the driver only open the front door when starting a route. The vast majority of passengers are using passes, and with an over subscribed service, rapid boarding is the only thing keeping the transit workable in Ottawa.

Once again, this shows how out of touch with reality Council, and the management of OCtranspo is. OCTranspo is an essential part of the city's transportation infrastructure. Its cost is weighed against the cost of widening the Queensway (nevermind the local streets can't handle the increased traffic and there isn't enough parking), or the costs of doing nothing at all (hmm, no workers can get to our offices, lets move Department X to Calgary).

OCTranspo is not a charity, and it is not a place for council to hide ward infrastructure projects (road widening and entire bridges payed for out of the transit budget because a bus will drive on it sometime)

Vic said...

Regarding fare reader locations: At Transitway stations, or even at busy bus stops, maybe they can install some fare readers so that people can tap on before boarding the bus. This would be essentially the same as what people do on GO trains. The transit cops carry Presto readers to verify that people have paid.

gordon said...

Are the Presto cards system-specific or will I be able to use my OC Transpo Presto card to pay for a ride in Toronto?

Anonymous said...

Presto Cards in Toronto can presently be used on any system, although passes and discounts are system-dependent.

For instance, an Ottawa Presto card with a Monthly Pass would work in Toronto, but you'd still have to pay the fare out of your PRESTO balance - your monthly pass loaded onto the card would not be valid in Toronto.

Bytowner said...

I remember hearing that the tax receipt issue was supposed to be addressed on CBC Radio One interview, but don't recall what date or which show...?