2017-03-03 Fri

The Presto Card - Strange Costs

I have been using my Presto Card to travel by GO Train between Clarkson and Union stations for over a year now.

I have grown accustomed to the cost being $3.74 each way, even when an auxiliary trip is taken on Mississauga Transit (please see “Tuesday, January 03, 2017”).

I ride the GO train from Union to Clarkson: $3.74.

I ride the GO train from Clarkson to Union: $3.74.

Got it!

Christopher Greaves Presto_20170228.jpg

Then on February 28th I arranged a lunch with a colleague out in Pickering. I rode the GO Train from Union to Pickering, and then rode from Pickering right through to Clarkson to meet my other friend, and then rode back to Union.

The first leg, Union to Pickering appears to have cost me $3.95. Could be. I have no idea how much that trip costs on a regular basis. I am unhappy that transit in the region is so expensive, but I can see that $3.95 is within the ballpark for this system. So I’ll go with $3.95.

The second leg, Pickering to Clarkson cost me $3.41, significantly less than my regular travel between Union and Pickering. How can a longer (time and distance) trip cost more? I could understand if the cost were the same. I’d think then that “travel within a zone around Union is a fixed price”, but I know already that that isn’t so.

The third leg, my regular “going home from Clarkson” trip cost $3.95, significantly more than the common-place $3.74. Why should that be?

Bottom Line: No matter how well you think you know the cost of using a Presto Card on the GO system, you don’t really know it.

This to my mind presents two problems:-

(1) When an electronic fare system is in use, passengers are at the mercy of whatever the transit authority chooses to do with the fares. They can alter the fares and adjust your magnetic strip without you knowing about it.

Compare that with, say, a paper ticket of metallic token system. In that case, if you have paid $2.10 for your paper ticket, or $3.25 for your metallic token, you know how much each trip will cost you.

(2) When a depreciating balance system like Presto is implemented (as distinct from a flat weekly or monthly system like the Transilean’s Navigo System).

When you have a ticket that is being reduced in value each time you use it, it is all the more important that you can predict the cost of each use of the system.