Toronto's auditor-general outlines latest problems with PRESTO data, revenue

An OC Transpo Presto Card.

Toronto's auditor-general can't come to her own conclusion of how much revenue the city has lost due to ongoing technical and data problems with PRESTO, but says an estimate of $3.4 million is probably correct. 

"It is our view that TTC's estimate of $3.4 million in revenue loss for 2018 due to malfunctioning PRESTO fare equipment does not appear to be overstated," AG Beverly Romeo-Beehler said in her report. 

In fact, due to ongoing problems, Romeo-Beehler goes on to say "TTC's availability estimates may even be understated given the issues we identified in this report with availability of PRESTO card readers." 

Along with the $3.4 million figure, the city also invoiced Metrolinx for $7.5 million for estimated revenue loss of three years, but says the TTC still hasn't been paid. 

The issues with the PRESTO rollout are nothing new, says Mayor John Tory, but says that doesn't change the fact the city is losing out on money that would otherwise go to other transit projects. 

"That revenue is needed to run the transit system, to expand service, to maintain service," he said. "The millions of dollars are less in number than they were before, but they're still too many." 

"PRESTO has to keep working to improve its system." 

The AG report says it was unable to come up with its own estimate because of information gaps and equipment problems. 

Among the problems outlined, Romeo-Beehler found over just two days, there were 300 incidents of frozen card readers on 168 buses. 

Then in August of this year, more than half of the time when vending machines on new streetcars were out of service, it was because the coin box was too full. 

"In one instance that it took seven days to collect coins/tokens after the machine issued the 'coin box is full' warning sign," the report said. "For the same streetcar, the last time the coin collection was done was 14 days prior." 

That same month, Six PRESTO vending machines were out-of-service on average per day because the box was full , the report said. 

The document also noted passenger data is being purged from Metrolinx systems after 60 days, when it's contractually supposed to be kept for seven years.

"Whether a customer's tap was successful or not can directly impact fare revenue - the device status is relevant information from a financial perspective," the report says.

NEWSTALK1010 has reached out to Metrolinx for comment.