TTC warns fare cheats face fines of up to $425 for tripping PRESTO-enabled gate sensors

Rider uses umbrella to trip TTC PRESTO-enabled gate sensors
WATCH ABOVE: The TTC is warning people that they could be fined up to $425 for fare evasion after a video posted online showed someone using an umbrella to open a PRESTO-enabled fare gate. Sean O'Shea reports.

On a rainy day in the city, it’s probably wise to walk with an umbrella. After all, it can keep you dry. But it can also useful for someone inclined to cheat Toronto’s public transit system.

A TTC rider, who said he holds a monthly Metropass, posted a video to YouTube showing the man waving an umbrella between the arms of the TTC’s new PRESTO-enabled fare gates at a subway station. The gate can be seen opening immediately allowing someone to walk through without paying.

“People are doing something illegal if they’re doing that,” TTC spokesperson Stuart Green told Global News.

“The sensor on the exit side of the gate is being, for lack of a better term, broken so you can put an object between the infrared beam and that’s causing the door to open. That is not the way it’s supposed to operate,” he said.

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The gates are designed to automatically for people leaving a station.

“I’m concerned because as you introduce new technology … you have to do it well,” Toronto Mayor John Tory said when asked for his view of he ease of someone being able to use an umbrella to beat the system.

Tory said the feature is designed to allow someone to leave a station safely.

“Obviously if the safety measure allows people to pass their umbrella through a gate and go through, that’s not satisfactory,” he said.

READ MORE: Stiff fines await TTC users trying, but failing to pay fares due to faulty machines

On Wednesday, Global News found other flaws with the TTC’s fare payment system used on its new streetcars. Five out of seven machines examined would not accept tokens, credit or debit payments.

“I want to pay,” a frustrated rider whose token kept falling though the machine as she rode to Spadina station said. She couldn’t pay, get a transfer and have the necessary proof of payment to satisfy a fare inspector who could charge a fine of up to $240.

Global News experienced the same problem when attempting to pay a fare using a debit card. With both machines on a streetcar not functioning, and no receipt available to prove an attempt to pay, it would be up to the fare inspector’s discretion whether to accept an explanation, issue a warning or write a ticket.

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The TTC said it’s concerned about fare evasion, which the transit authority estimates added up to $20 million in lost revenue last year.

But when it comes to umbrellas being used to get in for free, the TTC says it has no plans to fix the gates.

“This is not a design flaw,” Green said. “It is a flaw of people who are trying to cheat the system.”

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With files from Alana MacLeod