Whoa, it’s been a while.
I’ve decided to try this blogging thing again. Basically, I spend enough time thinking about things, I might as well write them down in some place. Besides, with a municipal election coming up in 2014, I’ll probably have things to say from the
peanut gallery sidelines.
Anyway, let’s ease into this by talking about Presto’s upcoming “upgrades”. If you are of the handful of often-frustrated people that use the Presto online services, you’ll probably know that they are starting a software upgrade today. There will be some service interruptions as they upgrade software so that (among other things) funds actually show up on your card right away.
That’ll be a nice change, but really just brings the system in line with how we expect stored-value cards to work in 2014. But what if we were to upgrade Presto so that it made some of the harder decisions, like whether or not you needed a pass in a given month, for you?
Presto keeps a log of how often you use the bus over the course of the month. You can even claim the transit tax credit if you take enough single trips. What if, after you’ve spent a certain amount of money or taken a certain number of trips, it just stopped charging you for future trips? Basically, you get a monthly pass after you’ve paid for one.
Crazy talk, right? I mean, that probably would require a whole re-working of the system and some re-programming that would take a pile of money and time.
Nope. That’s actually how Presto works in a bunch of the GTA communities where it was first implemented. Some are monthly (Oakville, Burlington), a bunch work weekly (Mississauga, Hamilton). Cutely, most even call it a “loyalty program”, rewarding you for using the bus. I suppose it’s more compelling than telling people that they inadvertently bought a bus pass.
Basically, Presto doesn’t work this way in Ottawa because no one has thought to make it work that way. It’s a no-cost way of improving the transit user experience in Ottawa, and a new feature might even build a little good will following the debacle that was Presto’s roll out.