Monday, October 15, 2012

Meltdowns and breakdowns

On the bus ride home this evening, I was seated near a woman who was absolutely distraught over the news that come January, monthly GO Transit passes were to go the way of Paris Hilton's movie career.
I found it comical and stifled a couple of giggles as she lamented to her friend why this was the coming of Hell, the end of the world and her own transit apocalypse.
In fact, at one point, she actually said, "Now I know how the dinosaurs felt, you know? When they saw that big comet hurtling towards earth with nothing they could do to stop it..."
What. The. F...?
Then she turned her sadness into anger and began to wail about how much she hates Presto. That there is no way she could remember to do all that tapping! GO Transit was being unfair! How dare they take away her freedom to walk onto the train without having to think about yet another routine! I quickly looked at her feet. Yep. Velcro.
Her gaze began to roam around the bus. Surely, she said, she can't be the only one pissed off about the cancellation of monthly passes.
It was then that I took my Presto card and rubbed it affectionately against my cheek.
When I caught her eye, I lovingly gave my Presto card some tongue.
Suck it up, honey. And buy some shoes with laces. Go for gold for once.


Anonymous said...

Sorry, I like the monthly pass too, and just emailed GO to complain. I pay enough every month, I think I should have the option.

C.J. Smith said...

I'm no fan of Presto myself.
But this woman was hysterical.
Change is always hard. ;)

Skin Man said...

I'm surprised there is anyone still using the monthly pass, after the discount was shrunk below that of the presto card.... is a twice a day tap that difficult?

C.J. Smith said...

To quote my bus driver, it's like riding a bicycle. Once you master it, you just do.

It's the 10-ride people who confuse me. You had to punch anyway, so what's the diff?

Dib said...

It was poorly thought out and we were manipulated into using it. My subway stop doesn't have a machine, so I'll still have to purchase tokens.

Squiggles said...

I have a presto. But I was considering switching back to the monthly pass. The reason is that my vehicle died and I am not replacing it right away.

With a monthly pass, I can get off in Pickering do errands at the Mall and then hop back on the train to Ajax. You can't do that with the Presto. You would have to pay the full $4 fare to get from Pickering to Ajax.

Apparently, the Presto Guy I talked to at Union said that it was something that has been complained about, but Preto will not do anything about it.

So all those little perks (free guest on the weekend, more freedom to get on and off) have gone by the wayside.

C.J. Smith said...

And that is why Presto is terrible ... the whole program/system is flawed.

However, I can't see Metrolinx changing their decision. They rammed Presto down our throats when I'm sure they knew it wasn't ready and they'll take away the passes because they know we'll adapt somehow.

Bad business. Bad, bad, bad. But when you're a monopoly, who cares?!

James said...

When you hop on and off it will count as a trip towards the 36 after that they become free. You will never pay as much as the monthly pass would.

Devon said...

I may not have to pay as much with Presto, but my savings (Port Credit to Union) is $5. I would like to keep my co-ride (value at least $10.70/month for one round trip with guest) and not have to tap, and I'd happily continue to pay that $5 to do so.

Anonymous said...

I'm sorry but it's pretty hilarious how people's favorite line about GTA Transit is it being "Stuck in the last Century" and when something is actually done to bring it up to modern times, people lose it. Paper monthly passes are last century and are being phased out all over the world. Electronic fare payment isn't really the future, it's the present, we're just finally catching up. And trust me once you see everybody tapping on and off it'll become second nature. Plus Presto basically becomes free for the rest of the month after a certain amount of trips, as long as its on the same line, so wouldn't those trips between Pickering and Ajax count toward that?

Matt said...

I heard about this. All I can say is “wow”. Really, who gives a damn?

Presto already discounts your first fare of the month by whatever their ascribed percentage is (I think it’s 7%?). Not bad, if you asked me – the casual rider immediately gets 10-ride discounts. You never need to go wait in line to buy fares if you don’t want to (I’ve recently started using the Interac Online option with Presto, and it works splendidly. I only need to make sure I do it 1 day before I actually need the fares. In fact, I loaded money on it Friday morning last week, and by 5pm when I got to Union, the fares were available to me). You never need to worry about receipts, because Presto gives you a report at the end of the year for taxes.

The ONLY drawback that I’ve heard of (yet, it doesn’t impact me) is the 2.5 hour window in which to complete your commute. I can all but guarantee that this will be extended back to the 4-hour window GO used to use (maybe still does?) with respect to validity of purchased fares, if not by user-outcry, then because it just makes sense. I suspect it was reduced to 2.5 hours because Presto is used on local transit in many areas, and a 4-hour window would allow a significant number of passengers to take a bus to their destination, shop/socialize/dine, and then return home on the same fare. Once Presto gets their shit together and can program the commute-window on a per-agency basis (they can already communicate inter-agency and automatically discount connecting transit fares), then I suspect the fare-use window will be changed accordingly.

People who are complaining about the phasing out of paper passes are simply looking for something to complain about. “How can I remember to tap twice a day?” Seriously? Do you think they remember to brush their teeth twice a day? What about eating? Wiping (you know...wiping)? Routines are easy to develop. You do it because you have to. And really, most of these monthly paper pass people are used to those occasional months where they took time off and had to use 10-ride passes, and therefore HAD to cancel the ticket twice a day. Pretend it’s like that. Everybody goes home happy.

AllanVS said...

The other problem is thus: a monthly pass has a 15% tax deduction, even if not used to the max. With Presto you Are required to ride a certain number of times to get the discount.

Squiggles said...

@Anon and James,

Yes it probably would. But as I have barely made it to the discounted fares some months, I have never actually had a "free ride" since I switched over to Presto from the monthly pass back in February/March.

What I object to is that Presto pretty much has a "one size fits all" policy. Which doesn't work for many people. Plus they found a way to make more money by screwing over those who don't fit within their view of the GO riding public. In normal circumstances, I wouldn't mind paying the extra fare (essentially the trip would cost me an extra 3.40 each time), if I didn't know that it would be pissed away.

Plus, if they did what Matt suggested above (paragraph 3), then I can guarantee that this implementation would be more acceptable to all.

Sylv said...

Tapping becomes part of the routine. When I first started using Presto I had to remind myself, now it is second nature. If you always travel between two points, have a default trip set up (savings having to tap off at the end of the ride).

The 10-rides didn't fit in a pocket without bending the corners, which would cause problems with the POP machine, so I always bought a month pass even if I had vacation during the month (less aggravation to deal with).

Now, the Presto card doesn't even come out of my bag (and it never takes me more than one tap).

Jack C. said...

I love your blog. I just started commuting from Ajax in Sept. and discovered this site shortly thereafter. Great stuff.

In any event. When I started out last month, I had to decide between Presto and the monthly pass. After weighing convenience and other factors, basic arithmetic made the decision for me. Presto would cost less, so it was really a no-brainer.
Presto hasn’t been problem free, however.

I initially ordered my Presto card online in August. When I received it, I couldn’t activate it. I just kept getting an error message. When I called the toll-free number, the woman at the other end offered nothing useful, just stunned disbelief that the card wouldn’t activate. That’s really helpful. She took down my information and said someone would contact me “within three business days.” I replied, “Uh… what if I need to use the card in the next three business days?” No response.

I got a voicemail three days later: “Your Presto card should be working and ready to activate.” I tried again to activate it. No go. Error message. I probably would have called it quits then and there but for the ten bucks I had already paid to get the card. I have a theory that the ten dollar initial fee isn’t to defray the cost of the card, but rather to keep people from throwing the card in the trash if activation proves aggravating.

I called the toll-free number in a lather, and the person initially tried to pull the “three business days” nonsense again, and I ranted that I had already waited three days and then some. She transferred me to someone who resolved the problem with only one or two muted curses and a bunch of frantic typing. The card was active and ready to go.

As a side note, I HATE it when CSRs try to blow you off and say there’s nothing they can do and you’ll have to wait for a return call when they know full well there is someone there who can solve the problem but would rather not have to.

C.J. Smith said...

Hi Jack!
And all the other new folks!!!

Skin Man said...

Jack, you have sumed up every experience I've every had with Presto agents, they are essentially useless, except for a small minority.

Anonymous said...

You fools!! i work at GO.
Presto means less workers down the line. Less workers means less customer service...if you are complaining now..wait a year.
You will be able to buy single and day pass from machine and load the Presto your self on internet.
They will keep a few attendants around but most will be gone in about 18 months. %85 of my passengers have Presto out of that %50 complaint about it.

FRED said...

We need to keep them GO people off this site. They spoil the mood.

calvinhc said...

I cannot believe some of the mis-information held by those fearing the elimination of the paper monthly pass.

Do people actually LIKE forking over the ENTIRE cost of the monthly pass before the month begins?!? With Presto, one can pay for it in smaller installments as it is only necessary to have an e-Purse balance to cover you for the next couple of days. Add twenty bucks (heck, the minimum is ten) at a time as needed instead of paying all at once up front.

If circumstances result in you not needing enough rides to reach the cap for the month, then you only pay that amount. With the pass, you have to pay for the whole month, though if you no longer need it at the end of the month, there is a procedure to get a partial refund, provided you do so the moment you no longer need it for the rest of the month. Stay off sick in the middle of the month, and there's no refund for you!

As for the transit tax credit, with Presto, that applies once one takes 32 trips on one system, which is below the cap. So, while there is a minimum number of trips needed to qualify, it is less than the full monthly pass price.

All that, and one only has to tap. There was a time when there was no monthly pass and everyone had to use a two-part ticket by depositing the first half when they entered a GO station and depositing the second half when they exited.

blindwheels said...

my only complaint with presto is that for blind people it is STILL completely innaccessible..
how the hell does a blind person find the correct damm machine?
there are no tactile pathways to the machines from the doors or elevators.. no way of finding the damm thing in a throng of ppl at union station or in the often deserted aldershot station..

also, with the old machines, it made a satisfying "CRUNCH-SNAP" letting you know your fare was extracted from your ten-ride pass..

with these new presto machines, no sound other than a very quiet beep, which i cannot hear while in union stationor at oshawa or oakville, with how noisy those stations are...