The TTC will soon start testing new modern fare gates to replace the aging metal turnstiles currently found at subway stations as it continues its push to modernize.
The new gates will integrate the Presto payment system and will begin field testing within the first three months of 2016.
Discussing the new gates at a Metrolinx board meeting Thursday, Metrolinx Executive Vice-President Robert Hollis said the shift will be “transformational” for the TTC.
A TTC report in June said the new gates will help riders move through the stations more quickly and easily, will help avoid fraud and will allow for different types of configuration to suit different entrances.
Hollis said the plan is to have the new gates installed at 48 subway stations by the end of 2016, effectively bringing Presto to all subway stations.
While Presto has already been rolled out to 26 subway stations, the nose-reader Presto machines and metal turnstiles at those stations will eventually be replaced with the new fare gates, though the timeline for their replacement has not yet been determined, Hollis said.
Some stations will have to wait longer for Presto
The switch to the new fare gates means that riders will have to wait a little longer to use Presto at some busy TTC stops, such as Eglinton Station.
Hollis said the move was planned so that the work to install the new infrastructure wouldn’t have to be redone at stations where the installation is more complicated.
“We agreed with the TTC we would halt the nose reader program in favour of new fare gates,” he said.
Hollis said the decision to delay the implementation of Presto at some stations “was really about offsetting the costs” involved in installing the older Presto readers, only to tear them out and put in the new fare gates a short time later.
“Having to do that twice would be enormous expense,” Hollis said. “It was a decision we took to preserve capitol and do work once.”
“In the end you have a gate with a 20-year lifespan that offers a better experience for everyone,” he added.
While the new fare gates will be narrower than other transit system to accommodate the TTC’s smaller subway stations, Hollis said the gates will be wide enough so that people will be able to pass through with a bicycle if need be.
He said eventually the station entrances that have the revolving floor-to-ceiling metal turnstile will also be replaced with the new gates.
Presto to come online on streetcars this month
The new entrances are the next step as the TTC moves toward fully integrating Presto as its main fare payment system.
Hollis said Metrolinx, which owns Presto and is working with the TTC to implement it, is on track to bring the system online on all eleven streetcar routes in the city by the end of the month. Presto is expected to start rolling out on buses sometime in the spring.
Efforts are also underway to make it easier to purchase a card in person rather than having to order one online.
A pilot project to start selling pre-loaded fare cards through five Gateway newsstands at some stations is expected to begin this month and Metroloinx is working with the TTC to add Presto cards to machines that already dispense monthly TTC passes.