She tapped into a groundswell of discontent that inspired GO to start a customer service committee and pick up its socks. GO's on-time performance has been on the rise and although there are lots of reasons for that, including schedule adjustments that better reflect real trip times, Eales' petition was a watershed moment.
But it wasn't enough to keep her on GO's committee or commuting into Toronto every day. Although she has a new job in the suburbs, Eales continues using Oakville transit and she even got on board with the new Presto fare card when it was introduced on those buses.
But it wasn't long before she found a shortfall with the new fare card. She ran into a negative balance on her card -- something Presto permits once to avoid stranding riders who have made an honest mistake. So Eales immediately went online and used her credit card to top up her e-purse and clear her debt.
But guess what? The next time she got on the bus, her card wasn't accepted by the reader. Seems GO, which administers Presto, doesn't let customers pay their debt and use their card again until they've actually gone into a station and settled up with a ticket agent.
When Eales called to complain and inquire she was told that the rule was clearly posted on the Presto website. But when she asked for a citation she got a vague response and was frustrated because she couldn't find that stipulation anywhere on the website.
So the Toronto Star called GO and transit officials 'fessed up. Eales couldn't find the rules on the website because that information wasn't there. That's been changed, according to Suzanne Adamkowski, manager of Presto client relations, who provided this link on Tuesday.
Wen we asked why on Earth Presto users couldn't clear their debt online Adamkowski was somewhat apologetic. The system was programmed according to the requirements set out by the various transit agencies using it years before Presto was rolled out.
"I can’t answer for what their thinking was at the time. It’s something that’s in the system that would take some reprogramming. There is no plan to fix it immediately and,... there are several things and that’s one of them that I’m bringing up at our operating committees in the next little while," said Adamkowski.
Also on the list is a 'remember me' feature so users don't have to retype their long Presto identity number every time they want to enter the site's registered user area. Because the Presto numbers are so long -- mine has 17 digits -- and to make the system more convenient, transit officials are considering allowing you to log into Presto using your email address -- a feature of virtually every website now.
"We have a new software deployment going in November that will add things like concessions – the ability for seniors and students to use a Presto card," Adamkowski told me.
The limit on how much you can load on your e-purse will also be raised from $320 to $1,000.