Wednesday, April 30, 2014

This Crazy Train's Presto Chronicles, Chapter 29: Missed Connections

from: PS
to: Greg Percy
cc: "C.J. Smith"
date: Mon, Apr 28, 2014 at 10:32 AM
subject: Can GO Transit + PRESTO Get Any More Bizarre?

Dear Mr. Percy,

  1. My PRESTO card, 312401001641xxxxxx, has a default trip between Pickering and Burlington.
  2. I tapped ON at Pickering station on Sunday, April 27, 2014 at 12:45; my ePurse was debited $12.65
  3. In error, I tapped ON again seven (7) minutes later; my ePurse was debited for another $7.88.  
  4. Realizing my error, I reversed the second tap ON; my ePurse was credited $7.88.
  5. I approached the first available ticket agent and explained what I had done.  The ticket agent called up my transaction history and confirmed the second tap ON had been reversed successfully and that I was good to travel to Burlington.  Before I left, I asked her to snap a photo of her video monitor with my camera.  I thanked the ticket agent and rushed off to the train platform.
  6. The trip went without incident until we were west of Mimico station where a fare inspection took place, and things became even more bizarre.
The Transit Safety Officer (TSO) produced his PRESTO reader, which I tapped, and we heard a failure tone.  The officer asked me where I was travelling, and I responded Pickering to Burlington for which I had a default trip.  He told me his device noted the tap ON for the default trip but that I had reversed that tap.

Inspection showing initial tap ON:
Inspection showing reversal of 2nd tap ON:
I related to the constable what had happened at Pickering station and that the ticket agent had cleared me to travel.  At that point I produced my camera and showed the TSO the photograph of my transaction history.  He was surprised at what he saw:
I asked the constable why his device did not reflect my true transaction history.  He responded that the PRESTO readers used for fare inspections do not show all transactions.

At this point, the officer's partner joined us and asked what the issue was.  I explained the matter to him, and the first TSO substantiated what I said.  The second constable was amazed that my second tap ON was not rejected.  I asked the constables how they could be expected to do their job properly with PRESTO misbehaving as it does and GO Transit management not supplying them with the correct tools.  They agreed it wasn't easy.  We concurred that inspector/passenger confrontations are unpleasant for all parties.  After apprising the officers of PRESTO issues they may encounter on the train in relation to the ePurse load problem on buses, they thanked me and continued their rounds.

My experience is not an isolated incident.  A quick scan of Twitter reveals that PRESTO failed @nitashaangl the same way on the morning of April 22, 2014.  The following snippet of Nitasha's transaction log is out of sequence (a known PRESTO bug).  The proper order of events is debit $7.49, debit $3.19, and credit $3.19.  Why do the inspection events, ordered by timestamp, show an illogical sequence of locations, namely, Guildwood, Eglinton, and then back to Guildwood?

The GO Transit Passenger Charter promises a comfortable experience.  In the context of this debacle, that did not happen.  I'll leave you with the following questions:
  1. What is the reason for PRESTO's seemingly irrational behaviour tapping ON?  Why did the PRESTO machine not produce a failed tap tone, flash red, and display an error message to the effect that I had already tapped ON as was the case on March 16, 2014?  What does the amount of $7.88 represent?
  2. Why can a ticket agent view my transaction history immediately, but I have to wait 24 hours (and sometimes more) before I can do the same?  As of this writing, the inspection event is still not in my transaction log.
  3. Why do the PRESTO readers that fare inspectors carry not report transaction history in proper context?
  4. Why are GO Transit employees not cross trained on how PRESTO transactions in other operating units affect them?
  5. I am weary of this PRESTO boondoggle; it has caused endless grief for passengers and front-line staff alike.  Why is Mr. Robert Hollis, Managing Director and Executive Vice-President, allowed to waltz around the media attributing PRESTO deficiencies to users' "unfamiliarity with the features"?  Clearly, PRESTO is fraught with issues for which his division is responsible.

This email was also forwarded to Robert Hollis at PRESTO


Al said...

So what if you didnt have the photo? Would you have recieved a ticket, cause I gotta tell ya I would nto have thought of havong the CSA take a picture.

Anonymous said...


Bicky said...

It's weird when you did the second tap that it took more money off. When I have done a second one, it says "Already tapped."

Hope you get the situation rectified. It's absurd you have to deal with a separate company for the card than from whom you're getting the transit service.

Taylor said...

I have tapped a second time as well with the funds for an override trip being withdrawn (normally a preset trip to union). It was reversed, but I had no idea of the inspection issue. Why can't Presto block tapping a second time in, say a 10 minute time frame?

Anonymous said...

Just wow! More proof that Presto can't do anything right.

PS, thank goodness you took a photo of the transaction logs because if you didn't have any proof to show the TSOs, you would have been fined. The TSOs are all familiar with Presto glitches and they do have discretion as to whether to fine a passenger or not.

PS said...

The TSO said my evidence trumped his, but that someone else might still write a ticket. I would have accepted the summons, gone to court, and produced PRESTO's transaction log to discredit the charge ... and then submitted a written account of that adventure to CJ.