Reading the fine print on Presto if you can find it
The long-awaited convenience has finally gone live on GO's Lakeshore West line used regularly by the reporter. She also uses the subway and, occasionally, the local bus at either end of her commute.
Presto seemed perfect -- no hunting for change or tokens, no buying different tickets depending on whether we're commuting from Clarkson or Aldershot, and no need to calculate 10-ride or monthly pass discounts for a period in which the commuter will likely be off for a week or more on vacation. It's supposed to do all that for us. Plus we can avoid the beginning-of-the-month line up for our monthly pass because we can load our card online.
This reporter has easily written a dozen stories touting Presto's convenience.
But in all the interviews with Presto officials, not one person has mentioned the card's default and over-ride features, which you need to know about before you buy a card for $6 and load it up with more of your hard-earned loonies.
The Presto website gives these features only a passing reference and refers you to the GO ticket agents who sell the cards for more information.
So in the interest of full disclosure you should know that Presto packs a subtle punch if you veer from your regular commute.
When you buy the card you'll be asked if you'd like to pick a default setting. That means when you do your usual commute you need only tap Presto before you get on the train.
But if you get on at another station not part of your card default setting, you have to remember to press the over-ride button on the electronic Presto reader at your departure time and then tap and press that button again when you arrive at your destination.
It's not that the additional tap and button take a long time, it's just that human beings can be forgetful, especially if they're rushing off the train.
What happens if you forget to activate the over-ride is anybody's guess since neither the ticket agent or the website told us that. If you take a trip shorter than your usual trip, do you forfeit the difference if you forget to tap when you get off the train? If you take a longer trip, could Presto be enabling cheaters and unwittingly setting all of us up for fare increases?
We've emailed our questions via the Presto site and received an electronic assurance that we'll get a reply within five business days. We'll let you know.