Presto card fun, one more time

July 27, 2012

Okay, as some of you might remember, I’ve ranted about the Presto transit card here before, but I’m mostly satisfied with mine lately – at least I haven’t had to worry about overriding the default trip on the GO train lately.

I still couldn’t get a monthly pass for Hamilton on it without taking time off work, but then again, I haven’t needed to. And I think that I’m going to be using it more in Hamilton, because I’ve belatedly figuring out that paying by the ride four times a week is cheaper than the monthly pass, since I never ride the Hamilton bus anymore except going to work and back. (And usually less than four times a week on average, too, now that I’ve got the car.)

And I haven’t used public transit at all in weeks, since the Toronto CSTS screening, the day before I left to go to Kansas in June. Since I got back from Kansas and Polaris, I’ve been driving to work every day, and walking to the store when I can. Partly this is because I didn’t get a July bus pass before I left town, and partly because the Block revision material is spread all over my table, so I couldn’t easily pack it up and work on it on the bus anyway, and having time to work on a writing project is part of what I like about taking the bus. If I’m driving, I can spend part of that time working at home, and the rest behind the wheel listening to an audiobook or tunes.

But I wanted to take the bus today, because it’s been so long, so I checked that I was still carrying the Presto card, and got up early enough to catch the 7:50 bus. This was the first time that I’d actually used the Presto on a Hamilton bus, but it wasn’t a different process than using it in Burlington. Swipe the card, the reader goes beep, and tells me that it’s deducting two bucks and my remaining balance is two point thirty-something. That wasn’t good, because if the cash fare to take the Burlington bus home from close to my office was two dollars fifty cents, and it was supposed to rain this afternoon.

Wait a second. Didn’t I reload the card on the Presto website before I left for the airport?

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My problems with Presto

June 4, 2011

Here in south-central Ontario, they’ve been talking for a while about introducing ‘the Presto card’ for public transit – it’s a single plastic card with an RFID chip in it, that you can use for lots of different local bus companies and other transit agencies. It’s a good idea, and I’ve had one and been using it for nearly a year now, I think, mostly with Burlington transit buses and the GO commuter trains, because those were the systems that I used that adopted it first. I thought it worked quite well overall, but just recently I’ve hit a few annoying ‘this should be working better’ moments.

First, Hamilton Street Railway went online with Presto in May, though there wasn’t a big announcement beforehand that May 1st was the day that all those Presto readers in the bus would suddenly switch from testing-only to live. (There were a lot of general info ads about them popping up in the shopping malls and so on, but I knew that it wasn’t live on the day that I first saw an ad, so they really weren’t that helpful specifically.)

But as May came to an end, I started to wonder if I should forego getting my usual plastic monthly pass for June and just go with Presto. A bit of digging, though, revealed the following issues:

  1. It seems that to get the monthly pass price for Hamilton on Presto, you can’t just load it with money as usual and have the system cap you out once you’ve used enough money on HSR fares to equal the monthly pass price. You specifically need to buy a digital ‘monthly pass’ and have that loaded onto your Presto card.
  2. The digital monthly pass can apparently only be purchased at the HSR ticket office in the GO center on Hunter street.
  3. The HSR ticket office in the GO center on Hunter street is only open from 8 to 4 on weekdays.
  4. I work from 8 to 4 on weekdays.
  5. My job is in Burlington, at least 20 minutes away from Hunter street in Hamilton.

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April 23, 2011

T is for…

Well, I’ve already dedicated H to my true hometown of Hamilton, but Toronto is sort of a half-adopted hometown, a place that’s also very dear to my heart. I didn’t really pay it that much attention for the first eighteen years plus of my life, except for a place to occasionally go to ride up the CN tower or see a baseball game or get government records, and really I suppose I was really ignorant of the benefits of living so close to such an amazing city. But then, I was young.

I moved to Toronto, to the suburban wilds of North York at least, for university, in the fall of 1995, and spent four years at York University, commuting back home to crash at my parent’s place every other weekend or so. (For some reason I still have dreams about finding my way across the big city on the TTC and looking for a new room to rent in Toronto.) I spent the first year, including the summer, in residence, and then spent the regular school term in rental places found on the housing board and summers back in Hamilton.

After seven months spent trying to find a job with only a bachelor’s degree and no work experience, during the consolidation days of the Y2K scare, I ended up going back to school in Toronto, taking the applied IT course at the Herzing institute in the Eaton center, and commuting into the city and back every day from Hamilton on GO transit – which would have been much more stressful, except that regular classes only lasted for four hours a day when I wasn’t doing teaching assistance or tutoring or grading for the school, so a lot of the time I could head back to Hamilton early. It was really a worthwhile experience, rounding out my university education with some more marketable skills, and also giving me a few useful connections, including the referral that led me to the job that I’m in now, (indirectly.)

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