|A fare machine at a Skytrain station in Vancouver (Dan Udey/Flickr)
Earlier in the week, a City document submitted to the Transit Commission stated that fare barriers are recommended to be installed at O-Train and Confederation Line stations, starting in 2016. Other fare-related machinery, such fare vending machines and audio-visual communication posts linking to customer service representatives, are also proposed at the same rail stations, the report says.
Fare vending machines, to be placed near the fare barriers, will handle a number of transactions including the purchase of single-ride tickets, Presto monthly passes (hopefully, it can be used instantly), "companion fare", multiple-ride tickets, day passes, and "multiple-day" passes. The multi-day pass appears to be a new type of fare. It will certainly benefit tourists visiting for the weekend or staying for week(s) during events like Bluesfest or Winterlude.
The machines, which will handle cash, credit, debit, and Presto cards, have the ability to issue a Presto card and refill its e-purse. Each station entrance will have at least two fare vending machines. Parliament Station is proposed to have eight of them, the most out of all the O-Train and Confederation Line stations.
Displaying transfer times and e-purse balances on vending machine screens was not stated in the document. There should be an entirely different machine, maybe Presto specific, that simply displays this information. One can only hope.
If there is a fare-related issue, OC Transpo wants light-rail customers to use "customer help points", which are audio-visual communication posts that link to customer service representatives, located outside the fare-paid area. Due to higher operating and capital costs, face-to-face customer service from collector booths is not recommended in the plan. You have to wonder what this means for the future of the St. Laurent sales centre on the upper level.
The idea of fare vending machines being available at each Confederation Line and O-Train station must be a relief to those who wait in lengthy line-ups at the Rideau Centre.