Metrolinx to add new fare option

This is an April Fools Day story although I have no doubt that some form of this will be an option sooner than we think. Some workplaces are already using RFID chip implants.

Clues to the fakery: the statement that being injected with the chip was less painful than using Presto,  the implementation date of February 29, 2019 (not a leap year), the inspector and passenger are not on an UP Express train and a righteous dig at the folks behind Metrolinx’s bizarre hydrogen fuel cell boondoggle.

Readers may be aware that Metrolinx has been having teething problems with some of its Presto fare gates. Presto is the card-based pass system that allows users to pay fares electronically.

Presto Problems.

According to sources, problems have occurred because Metrolinx is adding a new capability to the gates which will revolutionize travel in the GTA. In a first for North America, they’ve decided to press ahead with a Presto card alternative; a new technology that will use tiny RFID chips injected into commuters’ hands.

A hand with a Presto RFID chip freshly inserted and an actual chip to show the relative size.

The insertion of the chip is a one-time thing; slightly less painful than actually using Presto. Monthly passes can be paid for or renewed online, or at customer service. Shoppers Drug Mart pharmacists will insert the Chips at no charge.

Metrolinx fare gates will open as usual for card holders and soon for those who have the chips implanted in their left or right hand. Chip holders will be able to travel on any Metrolinx vehicle with Presto implemented. Metrolinx is calling the new fare system InWave; it is being rigorously tested and will be rolled out to the public on February 29th 2019.

Former TTC head Andy Byford demonstrates InWave last October before leaving to run New York’s transit system.

Receipts will be unnecessary as the system will hold a record of each passenger’s chip movements. Fare inspectors will simply scan the appropriate hand, saving commuters the bother of reaching for a phone, card or paper ticket.

A fare inspector testing InWave on the UP Express last month.

A Metrolinx source tells me that InWave originated with the same think tank that came up with the idea of studying hydrogen fuel cell technology as an alternative to electric trains.

For more background information read this.

Province cuts GO/UPX – TTC transfer cost.

An older model Presto Card and reader.

Many people are taking advantage of the rapid link to downtown that we enjoy here in Weston. It’s only 6 minutes to Bloor station and 14 minutes to Union from where TTC connections can be made. Some people find the combined cost of the GO/UP Express and the TTC too high and have felt that a discount should be offered. The Liberals will announce today that people who use a Presto Card to pay for fares will soon get a break when using both transit modes.

For example, people taking the GO train or UP Express will get a $1.50 discount on a TTC ticket when a Presto Card is used. Similarly, in the reverse direction a GO or UP Express ticket will be discounted $1.50 for those transferring from the TTC. The fare subsidy is designed to encourage more people to leave their cars at home and will save commuters up to $720 annually.

The new fare system will come into effect in December and is similar to  (but more generous) than those offered in other municipalities.

If you thought the UPX was crowded before…

Read more in this Star article here.

Presto Cards at Downtown Weston Shoppers Drug Mart

It’s not a huge announcement (on Twitter) from local MPP, and Minister of Citizenship and Immigration Laura Albanese but it’s one that makes sense for Weston. Many transit organizations including the TTC, GO and UP Express are moving to join the rest of the world in using electronic fare payments. This is done through an electronic card that can be loaded online, by phone or at a retail location. The card adopted for use in the GTA is the Presto Card and while it’s had some teething troubles, it’s supposed to be more convenient for customers and less subject to fraud than paper transfers or easily counterfeited tokens.

Minister Albanese announced today that our local Shoppers Drug Mart will be one of only 10 Toronto outlets selected to sell and service Presto Cards.

Weston has several modes of transit in one location and this is the reason no doubt that our branch of Shoppers will be one of the first locations in the city to roll out the service.