December 7, 2018 11:00 am

TTC union says Presto card system malfunctions daily as Metropasses being phased out

The union representing TTC workers is asking provincial officials to put maintenance and repair work of the Presto system back in its members' hands.

Global News

The union representing workers at the Toronto Transit Commission (TTC) says the province’s Presto fare card system, which will replace Metropasses in the new year, is unreliable and breaks down almost daily.

In a letter addressed to Premier Doug Ford, the Amalgamated Transit Union Local 113 said Presto outages occur “at all times of day,” and its own workers are not allowed to touch the system to fix it, as the job is conducted by Presto technicians.

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“The TTC has a large corps of highly trained, qualified and conscientious staff capable of keeping the fare system running efficiently,” the union wrote.

“The provincial government should restore maintenance and repair of Presto machines to the TTC, allowing ATU Local 113 members to do this work.”

READ MORE: TTC to start selling last batch of monthly Metropasses Friday

The union said Metrolinx, the provincial transit agency which operates Presto, sends private contractors to complete repairs of faulty Presto readers on streetcars and buses.

“TTC mechanics reported it took days and sometimes weeks for Metrolinx to send private contractors to repair Presto readers on streetcars and buses — repair work that ATU mechanics could have done but were not permitted to do,” the union said in a media release.

VIDEO: Transit riders are now able to hop on and hop off because of TTC’s two-hour transfer option

The letter cited first-hand accounts from bus drivers and fare collectors about the delays it takes to get the Presto system up and running.

READ MORE: Most Presto card holders taking advantage of TTC’s hop-on, hop-off transfer

“A TTC operator of 10 years writes that ‘it regularly takes from five to 60 minutes for a Presto reader to turn on and go live after I turn on the bus,’” the letter reads.

“A collector at Wilson Station reported having to spend the day letting people through the gates because their Presto card failed,” the union stated.

The letter also referenced a private memo from TTC Deputy Chief Executive Officer Kirsten Watson that was sent to the TTC Board in October, stating: “The machines are performing at levels that are not sustainable over the long term given the impact on customers, revenue and reputation.”

READ MORE: Metrolinx has been sharing data of Presto card customers with police

The union concludes its letter by saying the province should end the privatization and contracting out of the TTC.

“The provincial government, the TTC and Metrolinx should take steps to ensure public transit remains in public hands, including the TTC subway system,” the letter said.

Estimates by the TTC indicate it loses $4 million annually due to the failures with Presto readers.

VIDEO: TTC struggling with growing pains as it implements PRESTO fare card system

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