The Presto chronicles: Part II
Ah Presto. How pleased I was to run into my usual station at Clarkson on Wednesday and tap a reader before dashing for my train -- no ticket line, no point-of-purchase stamping.
The good vibes continued to my next Presto encounter at the TTC's Union Station entrance, where $2.50 was deducted from my Presto account -- less than the $3 cash fare.
Unfortunately things went south when I headed south again at the end of the day.
Heading home from city hall, I wasn't even thinking about whether I had change for the subway. After all I was Presto Girl, master of my transit destiny.
But of course there is no Presto reader at the Dundas TTC station so I dug through my purse for $3 to return to Union. Still not that big a deal because I happened to have three loonies.
At the GO concourse I tried two Presto readers to deduct the fare for my trip home. But instead of the merry green light and electronic bell I got a nasty message about technical difficulties which I took to mean the reader wasn't working. Surely the problem wasn't my card.
I approached a Presto promotion booth in search of a third reader. The two near the booth were still hooded, apparently not yet activated.
No matter, one of the Presto people led me to another card reader near the GO ticket counter. But no joy, same nasty message.
It must be a problem with my card, she said, and sent me to the ticket counter by which time I was getting a little anxious because it was close to the hourly train departure time. When I approached one of the four or five available ticket agents, I was told only one agent was available for Presto customers. So I stood to the side of the line and watched the minutes tick down to my train time.
I can report that the ticket agent charged with Presto did an excellent job helping the man ahead of me, whose needs had nothing to do with Presto from what I could see. She spent lots of time helping him navigate a trip somewhere in the wilds of the GTA.
But I confess I wasn't thinking about the agent's gold star as much as I was thinking about how annoyed I was going to be if she didn't get to me soon. I actually considered buying a ticket from another window just so I could be sure to catch my train.
But finally, the Presto-certified agent dispatched the other customer and called up my card history on her computer.
"Did you forget to tap off?" she said.
"No," said I. "I didn't need to tap off. I have a default setting on my card."
"Well it says here you owe about $5," she said.
"The card must not have registered when I tapped on this morning at Clarkson," I told her.
She said that was probably the case but I wasn't sure if she believed me or if this is a common problem. I would swear that the Clarkson reader had given me the green light and that welcoming electronic ping.
Later, I checked my Presto history online. Indeed there was no record that I had ever been to Clarkson so either I dreamt the green light and tone from the reader there or it failed me. I'm willing to concede either one is possible.
I made my train. The world continues to turn and I tapped on again Thursday morning, remembering to hit the over-ride button as I was coming from Aldershot this time. I also remembered to tap off when I got to Union.
So here's hoping that Wednesday's glitch was somehow my fault. Although I'm pleased to continue my experiment for now, I don't know if it would take more than a single missed train to turn me off the Presto experience.