Hamilton politicians step up to join PRESTO fare system for next decade

News Apr 21, 2017 by Kevin Werner Stoney Creek News

Hamilton will be paying more to be part of Metrolinx’s PRESTO fare system, but it will also be receiving additional gas tax funding by 2022.

Politicians agreed at their April 20 public works committee meeting to a one-year extension to the existing PRESTO fare system operating agreement, which has been in existence since 2006. And starting in 2018 a new 10-year operating agreement will be established that will see Hamilton pay upwards of $4 million to Metrolinx by 2027 in commission under the operating agreement, a significant increase from its current $422,000 commission it sends to the agency.

In return, Hamilton will receive $22 million in gas tax funds, starting in 2019, a doubling of the $11 million gas tax revenues the province provides the city now.

The one-year extension will continue the two per cent commission agreement with Metrolinx of the fare collected.

Under the new 10-year operating agreement, municipalities, including Hamilton, will be required to pay about 3 per cent of revenue for installing updated PRESTO fare card system on all its HSR buses and if approved, on the light-rail transit system. Hamilton about four years ago spent about $6.5 million to install PRESTO machines in all of its HSR buses.

In 2021 when the 9 per cent fare commission is established, Hamilton is expected to spend over $2 million on updated technology equipment to accommodate the PRESTO system.

Nancy Purser, manager of transit support services, said the city must sign the PRESTO fare system agreement to qualify for the gas tax funds.

“Hamilton is required to participate in PRESTO,” she said.

It was a message that politicians understood only too well.

“This is the carrot from PRESTO,” said Mountain Coun. Tom Jackson, acknowledging the gas tax funds. “We are pretty well beholden to the province for whatever agreement is made.”

The province is making the same offer to nine other Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area municipalities. Mississauga councillors will be voting on the agreement at their April 26 council meeting, while Brampton, Durham Region, Oakville, York Region, Ottawa, Toronto Transit Commission, GO Transit are at different degrees of considering the offer.

Hamilton’s PRESTO card usage has increased from 17.8 per cent in 2015 to about 21 per cent last year. The city recently offered PRESTO services at nine Fortinos locations, as well as at the Hamilton GO Centre on Hunter Street, Hamilton City Hall and the Dundas Municipal Service Centre.

Since its introduction in Hamilton, riders have been wary of using PRESTO and the city has lagged far behind other municipalities in the number of people acquiring the card.

Purser said by expanding the availability of the card, more people are using it. But she would like to see the card usage increase.

“I’d like to see the number higher,” she said.

PRESTO has had its detractors as customers have complained about being overcharged for rides not taken and other bureaucratic problems.

The $6 card has a five-year warranty and Metrolinx says customers pay the lowest fare when they use the PRESTO service. There is a weekly loyalty program, introduced in 2013.

Purser said Hamilton still offers paper media at all of the city’s vendor outlets to use on its transit system.

Mountain Coun. Terry Whitehead said family members have experienced PRESTO card problems over the years.

“There are challenges on the administrative side,” he said.

Purser said there is a reluctance by the public to use the card. But once they do, they accept it, she said.

“It can be confusing and somewhat frustrating,” said Purser. “But the majority of the people once they use it, once they know how to do it, love it. They love the convenience of it. PRESTO is doing as much as it can as possible to educate new customers.”


Hamilton politicians step up to join PRESTO fare system for next decade

News Apr 21, 2017 by Kevin Werner Stoney Creek News

Hamilton will be paying more to be part of Metrolinx’s PRESTO fare system, but it will also be receiving additional gas tax funding by 2022.

Politicians agreed at their April 20 public works committee meeting to a one-year extension to the existing PRESTO fare system operating agreement, which has been in existence since 2006. And starting in 2018 a new 10-year operating agreement will be established that will see Hamilton pay upwards of $4 million to Metrolinx by 2027 in commission under the operating agreement, a significant increase from its current $422,000 commission it sends to the agency.

In return, Hamilton will receive $22 million in gas tax funds, starting in 2019, a doubling of the $11 million gas tax revenues the province provides the city now.

The one-year extension will continue the two per cent commission agreement with Metrolinx of the fare collected.

Under the new 10-year operating agreement, municipalities, including Hamilton, will be required to pay about 3 per cent of revenue for installing updated PRESTO fare card system on all its HSR buses and if approved, on the light-rail transit system. Hamilton about four years ago spent about $6.5 million to install PRESTO machines in all of its HSR buses.

In 2021 when the 9 per cent fare commission is established, Hamilton is expected to spend over $2 million on updated technology equipment to accommodate the PRESTO system.

Nancy Purser, manager of transit support services, said the city must sign the PRESTO fare system agreement to qualify for the gas tax funds.

“Hamilton is required to participate in PRESTO,” she said.

It was a message that politicians understood only too well.

“This is the carrot from PRESTO,” said Mountain Coun. Tom Jackson, acknowledging the gas tax funds. “We are pretty well beholden to the province for whatever agreement is made.”

The province is making the same offer to nine other Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area municipalities. Mississauga councillors will be voting on the agreement at their April 26 council meeting, while Brampton, Durham Region, Oakville, York Region, Ottawa, Toronto Transit Commission, GO Transit are at different degrees of considering the offer.

Hamilton’s PRESTO card usage has increased from 17.8 per cent in 2015 to about 21 per cent last year. The city recently offered PRESTO services at nine Fortinos locations, as well as at the Hamilton GO Centre on Hunter Street, Hamilton City Hall and the Dundas Municipal Service Centre.

Since its introduction in Hamilton, riders have been wary of using PRESTO and the city has lagged far behind other municipalities in the number of people acquiring the card.

Purser said by expanding the availability of the card, more people are using it. But she would like to see the card usage increase.

“I’d like to see the number higher,” she said.

PRESTO has had its detractors as customers have complained about being overcharged for rides not taken and other bureaucratic problems.

The $6 card has a five-year warranty and Metrolinx says customers pay the lowest fare when they use the PRESTO service. There is a weekly loyalty program, introduced in 2013.

Purser said Hamilton still offers paper media at all of the city’s vendor outlets to use on its transit system.

Mountain Coun. Terry Whitehead said family members have experienced PRESTO card problems over the years.

“There are challenges on the administrative side,” he said.

Purser said there is a reluctance by the public to use the card. But once they do, they accept it, she said.

“It can be confusing and somewhat frustrating,” said Purser. “But the majority of the people once they use it, once they know how to do it, love it. They love the convenience of it. PRESTO is doing as much as it can as possible to educate new customers.”


Hamilton politicians step up to join PRESTO fare system for next decade

News Apr 21, 2017 by Kevin Werner Stoney Creek News

Hamilton will be paying more to be part of Metrolinx’s PRESTO fare system, but it will also be receiving additional gas tax funding by 2022.

Politicians agreed at their April 20 public works committee meeting to a one-year extension to the existing PRESTO fare system operating agreement, which has been in existence since 2006. And starting in 2018 a new 10-year operating agreement will be established that will see Hamilton pay upwards of $4 million to Metrolinx by 2027 in commission under the operating agreement, a significant increase from its current $422,000 commission it sends to the agency.

In return, Hamilton will receive $22 million in gas tax funds, starting in 2019, a doubling of the $11 million gas tax revenues the province provides the city now.

The one-year extension will continue the two per cent commission agreement with Metrolinx of the fare collected.

Under the new 10-year operating agreement, municipalities, including Hamilton, will be required to pay about 3 per cent of revenue for installing updated PRESTO fare card system on all its HSR buses and if approved, on the light-rail transit system. Hamilton about four years ago spent about $6.5 million to install PRESTO machines in all of its HSR buses.

In 2021 when the 9 per cent fare commission is established, Hamilton is expected to spend over $2 million on updated technology equipment to accommodate the PRESTO system.

Nancy Purser, manager of transit support services, said the city must sign the PRESTO fare system agreement to qualify for the gas tax funds.

“Hamilton is required to participate in PRESTO,” she said.

It was a message that politicians understood only too well.

“This is the carrot from PRESTO,” said Mountain Coun. Tom Jackson, acknowledging the gas tax funds. “We are pretty well beholden to the province for whatever agreement is made.”

The province is making the same offer to nine other Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area municipalities. Mississauga councillors will be voting on the agreement at their April 26 council meeting, while Brampton, Durham Region, Oakville, York Region, Ottawa, Toronto Transit Commission, GO Transit are at different degrees of considering the offer.

Hamilton’s PRESTO card usage has increased from 17.8 per cent in 2015 to about 21 per cent last year. The city recently offered PRESTO services at nine Fortinos locations, as well as at the Hamilton GO Centre on Hunter Street, Hamilton City Hall and the Dundas Municipal Service Centre.

Since its introduction in Hamilton, riders have been wary of using PRESTO and the city has lagged far behind other municipalities in the number of people acquiring the card.

Purser said by expanding the availability of the card, more people are using it. But she would like to see the card usage increase.

“I’d like to see the number higher,” she said.

PRESTO has had its detractors as customers have complained about being overcharged for rides not taken and other bureaucratic problems.

The $6 card has a five-year warranty and Metrolinx says customers pay the lowest fare when they use the PRESTO service. There is a weekly loyalty program, introduced in 2013.

Purser said Hamilton still offers paper media at all of the city’s vendor outlets to use on its transit system.

Mountain Coun. Terry Whitehead said family members have experienced PRESTO card problems over the years.

“There are challenges on the administrative side,” he said.

Purser said there is a reluctance by the public to use the card. But once they do, they accept it, she said.

“It can be confusing and somewhat frustrating,” said Purser. “But the majority of the people once they use it, once they know how to do it, love it. They love the convenience of it. PRESTO is doing as much as it can as possible to educate new customers.”