TTC eyes electronic fare cards but wants the province to pay for it

TTC eyes electronic fare cards but wants the province to pay for it

The latest chapter in the constant battle between Toronto and Queen’s Park is playing out on everyone’s favourite battlefield: the TTC. The province-owned Metrolinx is rolling out its system of Presto electronic cards starting on May 1, and it will be usable at some GO stations and eventually throughout most transit systems in the GTA. But not the TTC:

In an interview following a Toronto Board of Trade luncheon, Mr. Giambrone said several obstacles are holding up the TTC’s enrolment, including figuring out who will pay for it. “Right now, we’re waiting to hear about $260 million, so obviously that’s critical.”

Yesterday evening, Mr. Giambrone hosted a public presentation at city hall by a U.S. transit consultant who advocated making a leap to an “open payment” system in which people would be able to “tap in” using their debit and credit cards, thus offloading the transaction processing burden onto the private sector.

Not only is the city trying to shake the provincial money tree—how’s that working lately?—but it’s also delaying implementation of a technology that other major cities have had for years. To top it all off, they are now mulling a different payment system entirely. After all, what Torontonians want most during their morning commutes is a drawn-out pissing match between two competing technologies, like we were trying to pick between Blu-ray and HD-DVD.  (Which fare card will the porn industry support?) Whatever happens, it won’t be for years yet.

Settle in, Toronto: this is going to take a while.

• Smart card for TTC could be years away [National Post]
TTC eyes move to 21st-century fare system [Globe and Mail]