New generation of PRESTO machines spotted at Union Station
New PRESTO machines being rolled out across the GTA as part of a Metrolinx pilot project. (Metrolinx)
TORONTO -- An upgraded version of PRESTO payment machines, that one day could allow commuters to ‘tap on’ to the TTC or GO Transit with their phones, are being installed at Union Station.
In a news release, the crown corporation said the upgraded machines feature a new look and will be capable of accepting payment from your smartphone in the future.
“There are plans in store for modernizing PRESTO that will give customers more ways to pay and these new devices already have the built-in capability to support these enhancements,” the release reads.
Metrolinx said the new devices were designed with accessibility in mind.
Working with the Metrolinx Accessibility Advisory Committee, commuters will notice a new “audio mode” for text-to-speech as well as a larger screen that makes text easier to read and interact with.
Metrolinx said the trial period will allow them to test how the new devices function, before they’re installed on all vehicles and stations on transit systems in 2020.
“The new devices will be rolled out, in phases, to a select number of buses and stations first. They’ll primarily be installed on buses, but GO and YRT customers will see new in-station devices as well,” Metrolinx said.
“For GO, they’ll be installed at Burlington, Appleby, Clarkson, Aurora and Newmarket, as well as on select GO buses throughout the system.”
Commuters say PRESTO has problems
The installation of the new machines comes amid renewed criticism over the functionality of the PRESTO system.
Earlier this week, a Toronto woman said her PRESTO card malfunctioned just after she loaded it with funds, resulting in a $240 fine from transit inspection officers.
Speaking to CTV News Toronto, Metrolinx media relations spokesperson Matt Llewellyn said that it is extremely rare for Presto cards to malfunction, a claim that was met with intense criticism on social media.
In October, a report by the auditor general said the TTC alone lost at least $3.4 million in revenue due to malfunctioning PRESTO card readers.
In fact, the auditor general identified 300 frozen card readers on 168 TTC buses over a two-day period.
The auditor general submitted 34 recommendations in its report, including identifying the root causes of frozen PRESTO card readers, developing a method to detect issues with devices and ensuring coin collection occurs regularly.
The report also said there needs to be a “strategic refocussing at the top by both TTC and Metrolinx to tackle what matters most and to work together better.”
Stuart Green, a spokesperson for the TTC, said at the time that the recommendations provide “excellent advice for moving forward.