Friday, February 11, 2011

This Crazy Train's Presto Chronicles, Chapter 2: This could be the end of our friendship

Crudely drawn stick figures by CJ Smith

One of the perks of being a paper-based, monthly pass holder with GO Transit is that on weekends, you can bring a guest along for the ride - for free - so long as you travel within the zone shown on your pass.

Guess how this works with the Presto card?

Seriously, guess.

It doesn't.

Because this perk does not apply to the Presto card, this has been a barrier for many readers of this website to obtaining a Presto card. Several people wrote in to tell me how disappointed they are to finally have an electronic means of travel/payment only to learn that a key benefit of buying a pass (even when they know they would not use it for the entire month) could not be carried over.

I think because the program is still being worked out, this will be addressed. I am sure by using metrics and a history of a person's travel habits, which are now being recorded, GO can find a way to apply this perk to people who use Presto cards for a full month of travel, or who travel more than 30 times in a month.

I think they owe it to us, right? Considering they can't enforce their parking by-laws ...


Todd said...

I agree. GO will have to force me to Presto if they don't fix this (if Presto ever comes to Pickering). There is barely any benefit to switch to Presto in the first place.

RonNasty said...

Think about it. If GO wants everyone on Presto, wouldn't it be easier just to remove the perk altogether?

Sylv said...

I wonder why the card is the size it is - a key fob size would have been great.

(I did try to contact Presto to ask this, but their "contact us" form does not appear to work.)

kary said...

I contacted Presto, and someone got back to me, left such a long message they timed out, really wanted to speak with me about a complaint I had.

I've been a bit annoyed with all the presto machines that are out of service. Earlier this week I had to try 4 different machines, which meant I had to go into Union instead of just entering the platform off of Bay. I wasn't happy. I had only a few minutes, and with having to go from machine to machine, I nearly missed my train. Can you imagine if everyone was using Presto and the machines are out of service?

The free-passenger thing isn't important to me. I don't travel on the train on weekends, I drive if I'm going downtown. It certainly isn't the "only" benefit. Not paying for your trip when you're on a beach for a week is a pretty good reason to me. This month my GO will cost me $230 instead of $272.

Kelly said...

I had no idea you could bring a guest for free on the weekend!

Seb said...

I recently got the Presto card and have to say that I am quite happy with it. Some of the benefits that got me to switch:

1. My card is registered. If I lose it, I can cancel it and won't loose any money left on it. You can't do that with the paper passes; if you lose it, you lose your money.

2. I don't have to line up to reload it, I can do all of this online at my convenience.

3. Considering I travel a fair bit for my job, I can enjoy the same discounts as the 10 ride from the get go, and if it is a month that is light on business travel, I can also take advantage of the monthly discount - without the up front commitment.

4. I can load up my card with any amount of my choice. If I budget $50 per week, I can do that and have my card loaded automatically with that amount. I know people for whom it is a struggle to always save the amount necessary for the 10 rides/monthly passes and they end up putting it on their credit card, which leads up to interests, so the pass actually costs them more than the original price

Finally, since I don't take the train on the weekend, the benefit of bringing a friend with me for free does not really affect me.

I realize the Presto Card is not for everyone, but it is the ideal solution for me.

P.S. No, I don't work for GO or Presto

TomW said...

The card has to know how many trips you've made that month in order to get the correct discount. One option would be for ticket checkers to see how many rides you made that month (or the previous month). If it's over (say) 30, then the person with you travels for free.

Anonymous said...

I have a question.

If you have the Presto pass and "forget" to scan it or are running late and the machines are broken causing a long line and possibly missing the train, how do the ticket checkers on the Go know? DO they scan every Presto card to see if it had been scanned? I mean it seems to me that theoretically, you could flas your Presto, used or not, and ride for free.

I don't have a Presto so I am not familiar with the process to use it. With the 10 day pass it is visable to the eye whether it has been scanned.

Just trying to decide if it's worth it to me.

C.J. Smith said...

Every Presto card is scanned by the ticket checker who carries a reader. If the station is open, the onus is on you to go to the counter and have your card scanned if the reader outside is not functioning. If the station is closed, you ride and explain to the checker who has to verify your claim by radioing in to union and asking for a status on the machine. They know when machines are out of service because they are networked and would show as "offline". Or you take a photo with your phone as backup.

I'm talking in theory here. If GO has its shit together, this scenario should ring true.