With the expiry of my U-pass in May I have begun to use my Presto card for the first time since it’s launch. Thankfully, while there are a few minor issues I have found with Presto, I have only one major concern: payment options.
When I went to register and setup my Presto card I was presented with three different payment option: manual top-up, Monthly Pass, and Autoload, none of which seemed to my liking. The manual top-up option would mean that mean constantly being aware of your Presto card’s balance, and then logging on 6+ hours before you use it to top-up. The monthly pass option is not something I need as I use the bus infrequently during the summer. The third option, auto-load, while seeming like something I might use, also has it’s flaws.
Auto-load is setup with a credit card and will automatically add funds to your account if it drops below a certain level. This sounds like a reasonable choice until you look at what these values are. You are required to set the minimum balance at or above $20, and can only have it add a minimum of $20 when it tops up your account. This means that along with sometimes having $40 in your account, you are stuck with $20 sitting on your account, unused, until your deactivate the auto-loading feature.
As I don’t foresee myself using anywhere near $40 in fares in the near future, nor do I want to have $20 constantly stuck on my account, I began imagining a fourth payment option. If I can add my credit card to my account why is it not possible to have a pay-as-you-go scheme where I can tap my card as much as I want, without having to keep funds on the account, and then have Presto bill me once a month for the rides I have used. This seems like a simple, and logical, option with none of the complex Autoload restrictions, and should have been the main alternative to the manual top-up and the monthly pass payment methods from the start.
So while the Presto system as a whole is constantly improving I can only hope that they will recognize that their lack of a simple, and cost effective, pay-as-you-go billing system is something they need to implement if they want to make attract people to use their overly-complex electronic fare system.