The Presto fare card system was adapted with the aim of making commutation easier, but a recent report has announced that the system is costing unacceptably large expensive ride for Ontario taxpayers. The estimated cost of Metrolinx’s green smart cards has hiked up to almost $700 million from the original $250 million, 10-year agreement between the province and supplier, Accenture.
This has listed the system among the world’s most expensive fare card systems, revealed an Annual 2012 Report from Ontario Auditor General, Jim McCarter. Though, the card’s value has also been seriously hampered by the TTC’s inability to converse with with Presto sooner and the card’s cumbersome operations. The critical information of the system’s reliability is also allegedly missing. The report states that the take-up of Presto in the audit period i.e. almost six years into the program’s development was miserable.
The report points out that as of 31 March, 2012, only 6 per cent of regional transit riders are using the system. In case the Go riders are also accounted, the figure rises up to 18 per cent only. The report reveals that a major part of the cost hike is attributed to the development of Presto Next Generation (PNG), which is an upgraded system designed for the TTC and Ottawa, allowing the riders to pay fares from their credit or debit card, and eventually a mobile device. The report claims that a new system was developed “rather than expanding the Presto base system to meet the requirements of Ottawa and Toronto.”
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