presto ttc

Cost to run Presto will be much more than TTC's current system

Presto cards might be saving riders money – if they're transferring between GO, that is – but it's costing the TTC more than expected. 

According to a TTC report released Friday, converting Toronto's transit payment system from tickets, tokens and Metropasses to using Presto cards exclusively will cost the agency $110.8 million this year. 

By the time the Presto system is fully implemented in 2020 (pushed back from 2017) it'll be $9 million more expensive, costing $119.7 million. 

But that's nothing: the years leading up to that will be even costlier as the TTC juggles two payment systems, slowly phasing out old methods of fare collection as Presto becomes the norm. 

These expected "transitional costs" for 2019 will set the TTC back $19.5 million, making its total fare collection expense a whopping $130.3 million – that's $20 million more than this year. 

Then there's the 5.25 percent fee that the TTC has to pay to Presto operators Metrolinx for every card transaction, maintenance costs for Presto gates, and the cost of "customer service agents" at every station. The latter alone which will set the TTC back $35.6 million a year. 

And on top of all this, TTC and Metrolinx can't seem to agree on who's paying for what, making this fare transition feel less like growing pains and more like a big bumble. 

Right now, the TTC claims the owner of Presto owes the agency a total of $4.2 million for lost revenue due to malfunctioning Presto-reading machines, while Metrolinx says the transit agency still has a debt to repay for fare card-related business. 

TTC Chair Josh Colle has also stated that he thinks Metrolinx should swallow any additional Presto-card related expenses.

None of this is surprising since costs relating to Presto always seem to balloon to exorbitantly pricier amounts unexpectedly. 

Despite all this financial finger-pointing, the transit agency's plans for Presto domination are moving ahead at true TTC speed.

Tickets and tokens will no longer be sold by August 2019, while Metropasses won't be accepted after 2018: if you haven't gotten one of those sleek black Presto cards yet, it's time to at least start thinking about it. 

Lead photo by

twurdemann


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