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TTC prepares to accept more credit and debit payments

After being the last vestige of analog payments for so long, the TTC has been accepting credit and debit cards for monthly Metropasses at almost all of its subway stations for several months. Now, the techno-shy transit agency is ready to expand the program, possibly for all transactions right down to a $3 single fare.

Chris Upfold from the TTC says the idea to widen its scope is based on the success of the Metropass pilot, which was tested at just eight stations. Now, card readers are in all but six ticket booths - system wide rollout wraps up Dec. 14 - and the Commission will try offering cashless payments for its weekly pass, slowly adding other fares one by one.

"We wouldn't flip a switch and do them all; we would move progressively down through the products," says Upfold, "It needs to be a plain and deliberate process we go through."

The amount of time each transaction takes to process is the main reason for the piecemeal progress. The stations' card readers are capable of processing contactless, "wave and pay" transations but the bank cards that support the technology are still far from ubiquitous.

The TTC plans to study ticket booths lines after adding products to the list of fares customers can purchase with a card to ensure wait times stay realistic. If transactions start to take too long - it takes about 30 seconds to process and chip and pin sale - plastic payments for small fares could remain impractical unless card technology improves.

Should the TTC be expanding its credit and debit payments while PRESTO is still in the works? Will it be easier to ride the subway and buy tickets now there's going to be another way to pay for more expensive tickets?

Chris Bateman is a staff writer at blogTO. Follow him on Twitter at @chrisbateman.

Photo: "Day 113" by Mike Campbell Photography from the blogTO Flickr pool.


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