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TTC prepares to accept more credit and debit payments

Posted by Chris Bateman / December 7, 2012

toronto ttc turnstilesAfter 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.

Discussion

30 Comments

Langdon Alger / December 7, 2012 at 10:56 am
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Presto will accept credit cards once its complete on TTC. It's part of the package they signed on for. Sorry article, you should have done more research, baby!
Captain Obvious / December 7, 2012 at 10:57 am
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Automated. Kiosks. That. Accept. Credit. Cards. Like. Every. Transit. System. Elsewhere.
alan / December 7, 2012 at 11:08 am
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i've very confused by th first line of the first paragraph because i've been using my debit card for several years to buy a metropass...union station and broadview station are the 2 i've used and i do know there are a couple more...
Mike / December 7, 2012 at 11:11 am
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You mean Chris 'Upfold' from the TTC?
A fan of Captain Obvious replying to a comment from Captain Obvious / December 7, 2012 at 11:21 am
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Captain Obvious (obviously) hit the nail on the head.
Ontario Coalition Against Poverty (OCAP) / December 7, 2012 at 11:47 am
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No! The TTC needs to be cash only! It discriminates against those of us who don't use, or can't get, debit and credit cards.
Marc replying to a comment from Captain Obvious / December 7, 2012 at 11:47 am
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The MTA does not accept credit cards.
Dan replying to a comment from Ontario Coalition Against Poverty (OCAP) / December 7, 2012 at 11:58 am
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They aren't abolishing the use of cash. Cash and card can co-exist.

Calm the hell down.
SousedBergin / December 7, 2012 at 12:01 pm
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Dundas West Metropass machine was out of order but I noticed a debit machine by the collector. Waiting in line and saw that the debit handheld said approved so someone must have recently used it. Asked to buy a week pass.
Collector: Cash only
Me: (noticing no one behind me in line) Debit machine is right here, it says 'Approved' on it?
Collector: There is bank machine across the street.
Me: ?
Sunny replying to a comment from Marc / December 7, 2012 at 12:02 pm
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Actually they do, but not all machines do. I thought the main reason for not accepting credit cards was the payment processing fees? Has this somehow changed?
CM / December 7, 2012 at 12:25 pm
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Why do they want to make it so hard to give them money?? When they finally roll out this presto card you should be able to top it up online and through your phone etc.
Aaron / December 7, 2012 at 12:40 pm
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How thoroughly modern! Let's hope the TTC moves slowly on the introduction of this new cutting-edge technology. Customers don't want to be hit with this confounded newfangled gizmology all at once, chaos would surely ensue!! At least a year of studies are called for...
iSkyscraper replying to a comment from Sunny / December 7, 2012 at 01:21 pm
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Of course the MTA in New York accepts credit cards. In fact, you cannot even buy a fare at their booths for several years now, because requiring a human as part of the transaction is hopelessly antiquated and would only be found in a working museum of transit history ... oh.

MTA kiosks are either credit-only, or credit-or-cash. The credit-only kiosks are very small and require a lot less servicing.

Marc replying to a comment from Sunny / December 7, 2012 at 01:23 pm
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I'm pretty sure the turnstyles don't. You can use credit cards to purchase Metrocards, but you can't pay at the turnstyle with a credit card as Captain Obvious was lamenting.
iSkyscraper replying to a comment from Marc / December 7, 2012 at 01:52 pm
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Captain Obvious was referring to kiosks that sell fares and cards, obviously. Not turnstiles. It would be silly expensive to put credit card readers on hundreds and hundreds of individual turnstiles. While there have been experiments with this in New York the turnstiles only read Metrocards, which you purchase from automated kiosks in the stations. Other cities are similar.
Genius / December 7, 2012 at 01:57 pm
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Most days during rush hour, the ticket collectors dont have time to verify that $3.00 in pennies and dimes is really $3.00

Also, when they open the wheelchair gates, sometimes i stick a dime in instead of a token. often, the collector is reading 50 shades of grey or some romance/heroin novel and as long as they here a chime, they dont even bother.

lil tricks of the trade.

the best is when they stick up a paper sign that says "be right back". totally unguarded. free ride.

just my observations from 30 years of taking the better way :)
Jer replying to a comment from Dan / December 7, 2012 at 01:59 pm
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The OCAP remark was sarcasm.... Sounds like something OCAP would say though!
Jacob / December 7, 2012 at 02:06 pm
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If they use credit or debit cards for simple fare payment, it should be "tap to pay" only.

Anything that involves any other interaction takes too long and will infuriate lines of people.
Rafa replying to a comment from Genius / December 7, 2012 at 02:26 pm
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My thoughts exactly. Not only do I get a free ride, my abuse of the system will make them realize that they need to bring their system out of the 1950s.
sezme replying to a comment from Rafa / December 7, 2012 at 02:40 pm
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Yes, that'll teach 'em to trust people to do the right thing!
MrCelery replying to a comment from sezme / December 7, 2012 at 03:00 pm
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"trust people to do the right thing!"

TTC's slogan? riiight
Alex / December 7, 2012 at 03:39 pm
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There are stations that don't have the red machines where you buy metro/weekly/gta etc. passes? Which stations? Do you mean people that want to pay for tokens with debit or credit only? Because paying for passes with debit has been around a looooong time and is all over the system.
Alex replying to a comment from Ontario Coalition Against Poverty (OCAP) / December 7, 2012 at 05:16 pm
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You realize you are being discriminatory to other people by demanding that they go cash only? Giving other payment options is not discriminatory. What about someone who legit has no Canadian bank account but has VISA from the States and is here on business for the month and needs a metropass. or a student who only is a supplementary on their parents' credit card and has no "cash" access? If they take plastic, the line-ups to pay with cash are shorter. Therefore, you OCAP folk can line right up to pay sketchy cash.
Simon Tarses / December 7, 2012 at 08:45 pm
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And, just like that, the poor and disadvantaged are pushed aside just so that entitled Torontonians can get the latest fare payment system from the Pacific Rim and elsewhere simply because it's tres cool to have this and because of the 'it's the latest thing, everybody's got it!' mentality. Ontario Coalition Against Poverty (OCAP) is right.

Amazingly enough, some of the people here on Blog TO that support this are the same people who swear buck naked on a stack of Bibles that they won't ever use the self-serve checkout machines at local grocery stores because they remember how they worked at the grocery store when they were younger and don't want to put people out of work (http://www.blogto.com/city/2011/04/what_grocery_stores_used_to_look_like_in_toronto/)
Aaron replying to a comment from Simon Tarses / December 8, 2012 at 02:31 pm
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Don't be so idiotic. The OCAP post was clearly in jest and modern fare systems aren't simply 'cool' things to have, they allow transit authorities to operate more efficiently and track passenger movements accurately. Cash will always be on option at either the machines or at the booth.

To suggest that Toronto does anything considered 'the latest' is laughable. When you look at how far behind the city is on practically all progressive initiatives: pedestrian streets, bike lanes, transit, public housing, dealing with the Gardiner, state of good repair of parks, public realm, infrastructure, heritage preservation, liquor sales.. I can only assume that you too are posting in jest.

Not to mention the 'stick condos anywhere' approach to planning (or lack thereof) that has resulted in abominations such as CityPlace, Liberty Village and Queen Street Triangle.. among others.
Todd / December 8, 2012 at 09:53 pm
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Those of us non-deadbeats who can get a bank card and credit card (seriously, people who can't exist? And that's somehow my problem?) are punished by cash only policies because we utilize the card's reward programs.
Aaron replying to a comment from Todd / December 9, 2012 at 12:17 am
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It's not about deadbeats or non-deadbeats. It's about offering the 3 logical methods of payment: cash, debit or credit, at all points of sale. Like every other non-shithole city in the world.

Fucking Toronto, where even the simplest, most mundane step towards normalcy turns into a knee jerk, us against them, left/right, 905/416, douchebag/hipster, everyone hates everyone else, paralysis-inducing war on something

No wonder nothing is ever accomplished.
Me / December 9, 2012 at 12:54 am
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No shit. Todd just feels entitled that everything be dome HIS way.
Ben Smith replying to a comment from Ontario Coalition Against Poverty (OCAP) / December 9, 2012 at 03:46 pm
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First, I would assume that 99.999% of the population has at least a debit card, or access to one - and that is a lowball estimate. Second, while I am fortunately not poor, it has always been a hassle to have to go into my cashflow and take out $40 so I could buy $26 worth of tokens. What about someone who has between $26-$39.99 in their account, and is unable to take out $40 cash to buy tokens? Or more realistically, needs as much money in their bank account to deal with cheques and bill payments, and would prefer to use debit when possible?

Also as a cashier, the speed between cash and cards is not all that great, and many times cards are faster. With cash, many times they will try to unload some of their smaller coins which takes time, I have to put it away and get out their change and count it, etc. A card they just plug it in, enter their PIN, and are finished. With modern card readers, paying with debit or credit should be near instant.
Alex / December 9, 2012 at 09:45 pm
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As long as there are more entry turnstiles, I think it's ok.

The entire turnstile alignment and positioning of the booths MUST be rethought.

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