PRESTO Machines Are Apparently Too Full To Function Properly
More money, more problems.
If you're an avid commuter on the TTC, you may have come across some out-of-service PRESTO card readers in your time, particularly on Toronto's new streetcars. Well, it turns out those malfunctions are costing an awful lot of money. A report by the Auditor General of the City of Toronto into equipment and lost revenue on the TTC concluded that, in part, PRESTO machines not working are a key reason for the transit commission's financial shortfall.
PRESTO card readers, vending machines, and fare gates on the TTC's streetcars and subway all seemed to face some issues, according to the report, which is available in full here. And it turns out PRESTO's vending machines on the new TTC streetcars often have issues because no one is regularly emptying coins from the machines, according to an article by CBC.
"Based on the work performed with the information we could obtain, it is our view that TTC's estimate of $3.4 million in revenue loss for 2018 due to malfunctioning PRESTO fare equipment does not appear to be overstated," Auditor General Beverly Romeo-Beehler writes in the report.
The report reveals that some 56 percent of the out-of-service incidents with PRESTO vending machines on new streetcars are because of "coin box full" status during August 2019. Although the status means the machine is not technically broken, it does cause some problems.
A statement from Annalise Czerny, Executive Vice-President of PRESTO at Metrolinx, which was made available to Narcity, states: "We agree there are gaps within the current PRESTO agreement with the TTC and that resolving these gaps is in the best interest of our customers ... PRESTO vending equipment consistently performs above the 95-percent reliability target that is agreed to in our TTC contract. Reliability of payment equipment on buses and streetcars is typically between 98 and 99 percent or above. We are working hard to make those numbers even higher, and to ensure their accuracy.
"In 10 years, we have helped 10 transit agencies in Ontario successfully transition to PRESTO. We know that our partners’ success is our success and any lost fare revenue for any of our transit partners is also a loss for us so we are all motivated to succeed."
The report called on the TTC Board to "ensure the availability calculation of PRESTO vending machines includes all out-of-service incidents, including the status when the coin box is full and the machine is not available for the customer to pay by coins."
Meanwhile, when it came to card readers, auditors monitored 100 bus drivers who drove a total of 168 buses over two days back in June. During that time, the drivers had reported 330 Presto issues, of which 300 were due to frozen machines.
"Due to issues, limitations, and a complicated system, the TTC may not be getting all the passenger revenue it should," continues the report. "TTC and Metrolinx need to work together to resolve these issues."
"I would describe it as a work-in-progress," said Mayor John Tory at a news conference Friday, according to the CBC article.
Tory said Toronto and the TTC are taking steps in order to improve their working relationship with Metrolinx. Tory stated that the numbers are getting better, "but they're not where they need to be.
"They need to be at a very, very high level of reliability both so that we don't lose money and so that our customers can depend on the system," Tory stressed, according to CBC.
The full report into PRESTO and TTC revenue can be read here.
Narcity has also reached out to the TTC for a comment.