Tuesday, February 5, 2013

This Crazy Train's Presto Chronicles, Chapter 23: Does it really matter how we get to the station when affected by a train delay?

from: RC
date: Sat, Jan 26, 2013 at 7:31 PM
subject: Here's a story for your Presto chronicles about the new 20 mins guarantee.

Hello CJ,

My morning train was delayed and was eligible for a refund.

The standard GO fare from Whitby to Union is $7.36 so you would expect the refund to be $7.36... WRONG! If you take a GO bus to get to your GO station, you will notice the fare is split in two on your Presto card ($4.20 for the bus, then there's a .30 cent refund when you tap off, then Presto charges the difference, which is $3.20 in my case). So that's what Presto ended up refunding me (and everyone else on the bus) for the Service Guarantee - $3.20! I filled out the form online.

When I called Presto to tell them this made no sense, the lady kept explaining to me that they only refund the "train" portion of the fare, even though you're eligible for a refund in the afternoon if you take the train from Union back to your station (without taking a bus). You get a full refund since the full $7.36 is charged first and the bus fare is added & deducted later.

The next day I went to the Presto kiosk at Union station and the CSR agreed I was owed the complete fare, not a partial fare. They told me they knew the bus thing was an issue and promptly refunded me the rest of my fare. (CJ says, "If they know the bus thing is an issue, why aren't they fixing the online refund application to accommodate for the 'bus thing'?")

For future refunds, I think I'll give Presto a call before I file my claim online this time. 



Jack C. said...

Huh. I wonder if they'd try to pull this crap with co-fares, too. I've had a couple of refunds for evening trains, but not for morning trains. When I get on Durham Region Transit in the morning, Presto debits my card $3.00. The difference between the 65 cent co-fare and the $3.00 is credited toward my train fare when I tap on at Ajax station. I've noticed, though, that in the online statement, they still list $3.00 as the full DRT portion, and the remainder as a Go Transit charge. Based on the experience mentioned in the story, I'm willing to bet that in the event of a delayed morning train, Presto would try to screw me out of the $1.35 difference between the co-fare and the initial debit, claiming it's a DRT charge, not a Go Transit charge.

Has this happened to anyone?

Peter said...

CJ, it’s a “bus thing”, because Bus Ops is the poor cousin at GO Transit, and bus passengers are treated like second-class customers by the Ivory Tower. Why is it that a train trip delayed by malfunctioning doors qualifies for the service guarantee, but not a bus trip that is delayed by a faulty WMA lift? Tenable?

Peter said...

@Jack C: I always have to pay the DRT co-fare with cash, because the PRESTO travel window has expired by the time I arrive in Pickering. Another twist in this convoluted Service Guarantee is this: Do passengers forfeit the transfer credit because a delayed train caused the travel window to be exceeded?

Anonymous said...

Man, can Presto do anything right. In fact, no other transit smartcard system in the world has these draconian rules like Presto does.

Squiggles said...

Well Anon, no they can't.

But I have discovered a couple of loopholes that can save (at least) me money. Loopholes that they are "aware of" but can't do anything about.

And it sucks about the splitting. Guess I have been pretty lucky that there haven't been any major delays going into work.

Anonymous said...

Check at the end of the month and see if you still get the full refund. You will probably go over the 35 one way trip number and if you do see if your refund is for the full cost or the cost of the trips once you are over 35. February only has 19 work days so you probably won't hit the maximum number of trips that can be charged.

I would like to know from anyone who has had a late train refund nad has made more than 40 one way trips what their refund was at the end of the month. From GO's wording it looks like it will be zero.

Bicky said...

@Anon: 10:29am - The way I understand it, you'll only get a refund for the amount actually paid. So if trip 36 is costing you $1.10, then you'll only be credited back $1.10. If it's trip 41 that's late, you'll get $0 because you paid $0.

You need to hope all your delays happen in the first part of the month. Better yet - not at all!

mumzthewurd said...

Go buses are often significantly late due to traffic. However, sometimes the bus that left 20 min after yours beats you to the destination. That shows that it has more to do with the decision of the driver to choose a more congested route. I swear some of them are closing in on overtime and stick with bad routes when there are viable alternates.

Anonymous said...


What loopholes can you share with us.

Squiggles said...

Ah, these loopholes. Both have to do with the fare window.

A) You hit the override button when you tap on at your home station. Then you tap off at Union. As long as you tap BACK on at Union within the 2.5 hours, you are only charged $2.50(ish) for your return trip home and not the full fare.

B) Hit the override button at Union, tapped off at Pickering (not my home station), did an errand, hit the override button at Pickering and tapped on withint 30 mins. Tapped off at my home station and had a fare of $0.

C) Durham Region Transit has a co-fare payment (65 cents) as long as you tap onto the bus after the GO. This is meant to get you home. But I have discovered that any subsequent taps from multiple bus rides are treated as part of the same fare. For example: I went for a massage after work one day. I tapped onto the bus for 65 cents. Then because I was only an hour and a half, I didn't have to pay for the trip back to the GO station, then onto my normal bus home.

For A) I did talk to the guy at the Union Presto desk and they are aware of the loophole, but had no desire to do anything about it. Which is fine with me because that is what I use if I have to run into the office on the weekends to pick stuff up.

matt said...

I used loophole A) yesterday to go downtown to pick up some event tickets I had bought.
Tapped on GO bus at Unionville and off at Union bus station (fare was $5.20 minus $1.18). Grabbed the tickets. Override and tap at union, got Richmond Hill train home (fare was $5.20 minus $4.16 = $1.04) since both journeys are seen by Presto as one continuous trip.
If you then go onto local transit (YRT) it's $0.75 co fare and this lasts for two hours across multiple buses and in both direction, just in case you have more errands to run!