Everyone in Toronto is confused about the TTC's two-hour transfer window
The TTC's new Presto system has caused Torontonians a lot of angst since the commission started the transition from its old legacy fares to the modern, contactless cards that some seem to love and others loathe.
There was a new bout of confusion this weekend among commuters — and apparently within the TTC itself — concerning Presto's rules for two-hour transfers when some transit enforcement officers allegedly told a passenger that the two-hour transfer window was, in fact, a two-hour travel window.
Tapped PRESTO on at Yorkdale, transferred on to the 510. Got off at Kensington for some shopping. Tapped back on the 510. Couple of stops in, fare enforcer told me I had 4 min left on my transfer.— Pedro Marques (@MetroManTO) February 28, 2020
A) How am I supposed to know that?
B) What if they had checked my card 5 min later? pic.twitter.com/LGXyLTWtlZ
The transitgoer was informed that there were only four minutes "left" on his Presto card, after which time he would be fined — something that incensed social media users, given the fact that a one-way trip from one end of a line to another can take more than two hours (especially with the TTC's notorious delays).
Also, if this were to be the case, there would be no way for a Presto user to see exactly how long they've been traveling on a fare or how much time they had left on a given trip.
How about if there are delays caused by TTC? Say I tap at 2pm. I have until 4 to complete my trip, right? Say there’s an issue and I don’t get there until 5pm, and my last tap occurs when I board a vehicle at 4:30. Then I’m charged twice as much (for worse service) or risk a fine— Alisha Ali (@blinkgilmore182) March 1, 2020
Things got even more messy when the official TTC customer service Twitter account shared some misinformation on the topic in a series of since-deleted, very contradictory tweets.
One read: "If your fare is checked after the 2 hours but you tapped prior to the 2 hour ending you can stay on the vehicle you last tapped on until your destination but you cannot transfer to another vehicle," while another said "if your travel time is over the 2 hour transfer period you would need to pay another fare."
A third then stated that the two hour window "allows you to travel freely for 2 hours. While you may have boarded a vehicle within your 2hr window, you are required to pay a new fare once it expires" — essentially what the enforcement officer had told the aforementioned commuter who had four minutes "left" on his trip.
It's DEEPLY concerning that TTC service reps and fare inspectors are confused about the two-hour transfer window. This was implemented over a year ago. How many riders have been fined for fare evasion in error? #TTC https://t.co/XSS5CQp8tJ— Laura Callaghan (@L_Callaghan) March 1, 2020
Many users found the tweets to be beyond puzzling and unprofessional, leaving the public with even more questions surrounding transfers than before.
The TTC clarified the situation with a new round of tweets Sunday morning, while representatives spoke with CityNews to reiterate that customers do in fact have two hours to "enter and exit the TTC as much as they want" from the first time they tap their card.
If your transfer expires while you are on a vehicle you do not have to tap until you transfer again - at that point you would be charged another fare. We are working with @PRESTOcard to introduce a transfer screen showing how much time is left.— Heather Brown (@hmacmillanbrown) March 1, 2020
Residents only have to pay again if they exit the TTC system and re-enter once more outside of those two hours — not if the two hours expires while they are in the middle of an active trip on a TTC vehicle.
But, if a commuter switches from one vehicle to another on the same one-way ride, they will be charged another fare when they tap their card if it has been more than two hours since they first tapped on.
PRESTO’s propensity for error, matched with the TTC‘s contradictory responses on polices, only magnifies that. The TTC has some serious introspection to do to fix this and an “oops” tweet is not it. Start at the top. TTC CEO Leary has fumbled this repeatedly. #BringBackAndyByford— Pedro Marques (@MetroManTO) March 1, 2020
So, though you can't receive a fine for fare evasion just for being on a TTC vehicle more than two hours after you first started your trip, you can be fined if you go from, say, a subway to a bus or streetcar without tapping on the second vehicle if your subway ride was longer than 2 hours.
As long as you tap every time you board a vehicle, you should be safe and automatically charged accordingly.
Though the confusion has seemingly been cleared up, people in Toronto are not exactly thrilled about how it was handled by the TTC's social media team, nor about the fact that TTC staff and enforcement officers don't seem to know the rules themselves.
Everyone *please* stop heaping on the TTC rn. YES their inspectors use violence against riders. YES they've deployed print ads to make riders feel like criminals. YES they play audio to also make riders feel like criminals. But at LEAST they're also incompetent.— sky ceratops (@schuylerwillson) March 1, 2020
With all of this hubbub taking place just after a recent fare hike, publicized incidents of TTC fare inspectors using excessive force on riders, an inflammatory ad campaign and news that the commission will be instating plainclothes officers to crackdown on fare evasion, it's safe to say that Toronto is not the biggest fan of its public transportation system at the moment.
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