About 150 people showed up at the TTC-Presto ‘consultation’ meeting last night. It was labelled as consultation but it quickly became clear the decisions had been made and were mostly irreversible. The meeting had been asked for by the Fair Fare Coalition and TTC Riders. TTC and Presto refused to advertise the meeting on their social media.
TTC will be converting fully to Presto within the year, so that by Jan 1, 2020 tokens will be phased out completely, as will ticket booth operators in subway stations. Presto has signed an exclusive deal with Loblaw to make Shopper’s Drug Mart the only retailer of Presto media. In York South – Weston there are 37 retailers today. That will drop to 2. Although TTC Riders has asked to see the contract with Loblaw, it is currently secret.
There are 135 Shopper’s in Toronto. There are currently 1100 retailers. TTC has stated there needs to be at least 421 outlets to maintain accessibility. Neither TTC nor Presto could answer how or if that will be done. They are looking at libraries and community centres, as Loblaws apparently will permit that.
Without a loaded $6 Presto Card, seniors and students will only be able to get their discount by using cash on a bus or streetcar. With no ticket booth operators in subways, TTC has no idea how persons will transfer from a bus or streetcar to the subway, if they paid in cash.
Buying and maintaining a full presto card is a hardship for many. It costs $6, and the minimum load is $10 in cash or $20 on a credit card auto-load. Ironically, the TTC handed out presto cards to everyone who came to the meeting, loaded with $6! So the minimum load is not carved in stone. Vancouver’s minimum load is $5. Many thought it should be a ttc fare.
There will be paper presto tickets for sale (at Shoppers and TTC stations) but they will be full-fare only ($3.25). Currently tokens cost $3, and senior/student tickets cost $2.05 so this is a hidden fare increase. The only discount available will be to social service agencies or schools etc. who can afford to buy 400 at a time, which will be the minimum bulk order.
There are plans for a two-ride ticket, a day-pass ticket, and a weekly-pass ticket. No family pass, and no convention pass.
Presto and TTC admitted the paper tickets are not recyclable, so considerable waste will be created by the new system. They had no suggestions as to how to avoid this. They also admitted the tickets have no braille, so the blind have to tap the ticket on a machine in the subway or Shoppers to know if it is still valid, as they all will have a printed expiry date on them. Tickets purchased one at a time will expire in 90 days. Tickets purchased in bulk will expire in one year. There will be a recommendation to the TTC board that there be a way to issue refunds for expired tickets, but that is not currently assured.
Presto advised they are working on an app for Android phones with the correct hardware to allow users to use their phones to reload their presto cards. There are no plans to allow credit cards or Apple Pay or Android Pay systems on Presto readers. Presto is removing credit card readers currently installed in streetcars. Vancouver’s system, which is almost identical to Toronto’s but cost 85% less to design and build, does allow credit cards. Vancouver also has wristbands with the card built in. No fumbling with wallets and purses.
As expected, a big part of the meeting focused on how the poor, those on Ontario Works, Ontario Disability Support Program, seniors and students will manage without tokens. There were demands for meetings in areas of Toronto with high concentrations of such persons, as the downtown locale limited participation. TTC and Presto appeared to agree to have more ‘consultations’. But it remains to be seen whether any advice from the public will change anything.