Toronto transit board to tackle auditor general’s report on Presto issues

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WATCH ABOVE: The TTC Board faces 34 recommendations from Toronto’s Auditor General involving the loss of revenue from malfunctioning Presto machines. Matthew Bingley has the details – Oct 24, 2019

At its latest meeting on Thursday, the TTC Board will face the 34 recommendations from Toronto’s Auditor General that address the loss of revenue from Presto machines malfunctioning due to unemptied coin boxes.

On Nov. 30, the TTC will stop selling tickets, tokens, and traditional passes as it phases out the old system of fare collection.

But as it commits fully to the Presto card, an Auditor General’s report has once again revealed the system is losing money due to malfunctions. In this case, the report details a breakdown in communication for what it classifies as “a simple problem.”

READ MORE: TTC to stop selling tickets, tokens, day and weekly passes by Nov. 30

The audit found that the number of reports for Presto collection machines not functioning properly is likely lower than reported.

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In some cases, the report detailed frozen machines still reporting to operate properly, despite the fact they weren’t collecting fares from tapped cards.

In another more detailed circumstance, the audit outlined the breakdown in communication between Metrolinx which is in charge of the Presto system, the TTC, and two of its vendors.

READ MORE: Province agrees to drop upload of Toronto subway system, city backs Ontario Line

The audit found that a Presto fare collection machine on a TTC vehicle malfunctioned due to a full coin box.

The machine reported the issue to what the audit called “Vendor A,” but because emptying the machine wasn’t its responsibility, it closed the report by noting the machine was functioning properly still.

It also said that because the TTC didn’t realize the coin box was the cause of the problem, it didn’t schedule the vehicle to have it emptied.

The TTC reported the issue to Metrolinx four separate times, which passed the issue onto its Vendor. Each time, the same result was met when the Vendor found the machine wasn’t experiencing an equipment malfunction.

In more than half the cases of presto malfunctions, the audit said the cause was a full coin box.

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READ MORE: Millions lost in ‘negligence,’ potential savings for City of Toronto vehicles: auditor general

Another recommendation was for changes to be made “to require proper approval sign-off by TTC for Metrolinx to be able to withdraw amounts from TTC’s revenue bank account.”

The report said Metrolinx had made “unauthorized withdrawals” from the TTC’s Presto revenue account. The audit said the TTC put a “stop payment” on the unauthorized money withdrawn from the account and added the money was returned to the TTC on Sept. 20.

The total loss of revenue was not detailed in the report due to what the audit called information gaps. However, in 2018, the TTC lost $3.4 million in fare revenue due to malfunctioning Presto equipment.

The audit recommended 34 recommendations to resolve the issue, which include identifying the root causes of malfunctioning card readers and ensuring frozen machines are reporting issues.

It also recommended improvements to oversight and communication, to resolve issues when they arise.

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