‘Significant progress’ with Presto: Metrolinx president

Officials from the provincial agency responsible for rolling out the Presto smart card told the city’s transit commission today that the new digital fare payment system is moving forward, with once-problematic glitches now (mostly) worked out.

“Cautiously optimistic” is how transit general manager John Manconi described his feelings about the oft-plagued Metrolinx system.

Manconi was concerned about the tap-and-go card’s viability at June’s transit meeting, when Presto representatives told the commission the system would not be up and running by its original July 1 debut. The rollout, they announced, would be pushed back seven months. Manconi said if progress wasn’t made, an alternative might have to be found.

Still, Manconi announced today that “we do not need to move to Plan B.”

Metrolinx president Bruce McCuaig said the Presto team is reporting “significant progress.”

The system’s trickiest bug is a “white screen,” which happens when the systems don’t shut down properly or when they reboot unexpectedly. Unregistered payments were also a big problem, but McCuaig said 95 per cent of customer taps are now being read, also because of software updates.

McCuaig said all issues have been, or are in the process of, being resolved. But they still have work to do, including remedying any outstanding tech problems or new ones that might pop up.

The next steps are to install Presto readers on the rest of the bus fleet by mid-September, as well as 12 at O-Train platforms by October.

Metrolinx will return to the transit commission in the fall with a customer rollout strategy.