The TTC chair is worried the Presto system won’t be substantially in place before the 2015 Pan Am Games.
The installation schedule, a joint TTC-Metrolinx timeline, calls for Presto card readers to be on 50 new streetcars and in 23 subway stations by the end of 2014.
But since the equipment for the other 46 stations won’t be procured until the end of next year, there will be little time left to install and test it for the summer of 2015.
“It was always my expectation we would have substantial completion for the Pan Am Games, and I’ve repeatedly said that on the record,” said TTC chair Karen Stintz.
“Based on this schedule, it’s unlikely that we will meet our commitments,” she said, after staff was directed to go back to Metrolinx and look at a revised schedule.
Given that every other transit system in the Toronto region, including GO, plus Ottawa’s transit system, are already using Presto cards, Stintz said she thinks the TTC can proceed faster.
Riders put dollar value on their Presto cards and then tap them before boarding transit to have the fare automatically deducted from their account. The balance can be topped up electronically or in person.
TTC chair Andy Byford said he’s eager to get the cards working, too. But, he cautioned, “Let’s not progress so quickly the implementation goes wrong . . . I do not want to impose a system on Torontonians that is not yet proven. I want to make certain anything we procure works, and works out of the box the first time,” he said.
Using Presto on the TTC is “horrendously complicated” and is coinciding with the rollout of the new TTC streetcars, said Byford. While all the new streetcars will have Presto readers by every door, they will also have ticket validation machines on board so that riders with transfers and other fare media can confirm they have paid.
The TTC is also rolling out new vending machines that will allow riders to put money on their Presto card.
The TTC is buying the second generation of the Presto system, which differs from what’s already in place in other Toronto-area transit agencies in that it will eventually accept open payments. Riders will be able to tap a cellphone, debit or credit card to pay their fare, rather than using the plastic cards currently issued.
It’s not clear when that feature will be available, according to TTC officials, who say that’s at least partly up to Metrolinx.
There are first-generation Presto readers at 14 TTC stations already, mostly at terminals where riders on other transit systems access the TTC.
Metrolinx is paying for the 10,000 electronic readers that will be installed on the TTC.
“We are confident the plan we have in place will address the needs of the TTC and our customers. We expect Presto to be in place to serve key venues in time for the Pan Am Games. We are taking a phased approach to rollout, an approach consistent with how we rolled out the (Greater Toronto Area) and one we know works well,” Metrolinx’s Anne Marie Aikins wrote in an email.
She wouldn’t specify which venues would be served, however.
Metrolinx wouldn’t say how much the readers to be installed on the TTC will cost. The TTC itself is covering the cost, about $50 million, of wiring its stations for the equipment and assorted other expenses.