Hamilton city staff recommended that staff be authorized to enter into a one-year extension to the existing PRESTO Fare System Operating Agreement under the existing terms and conditions to October 26, 2017 and be directed to negotiate and execute, a definitive 10 year operating agreement thru 2027. The report and recommendation was presented at the April 20th Public Works meeting and approved by councillors. It was later passed at council on April 26th.
The 10-year agreement with Metrolinx and Presto was also approved.
The City of Hamilton and the HSR have been using the province’s PRESTO fare card system since 2006 when Council approved entering into a ten-year operating agreement with the Ministry of Transportation, other participating 905 municipalities, and GO Transit for the operation of the PRESTO system. The cost sharing arrangement of this agreement saw the Province fund 100% of the capital and operating costs of the central system for that 10 year period. A two percent commission rate is charged for fares paid via PRESTO. This funding model applied to all participating 905 municipalities.
The new ten-year operating agreement which Metrolinx and the 905 Municipal Service Providers (MSP) have come to will be used as the basis for developing the definitive details for a new 10 year Operating Agreement between the 905 Transit Agencies, GO Transit, UP Express and OC Transpo.
Beginning in 2018 the commission rate for PRESTO will increase to 3%, followed by 4% in 2019, 5% in 2020, and capped at 6% for the period from 2021 thru 2027. Under the new Operating Agreement the annual operating cost of PRESTO for the City of Hamilton would increase from an estimated $422,000 in 2017 to an estimated $4.1 million in 2027, if PRESTO adoption predictions of 80% by 2021 are met.
To date the adoption rate for PRESTO in Hamilton has been slow, currently at 21%. Many other transit agencies in the GTHA have achieved 80%. Part of the difficulty in that attachment rate is the relatively limited phsyical reload locations.
The availability for customers to purchase a card or reload is currently limited to the HSR Customer Service Office at the Hamilton GO Centre, the GO Transit counter also at the Hamilton Centre, Hamilton City Hall, the Dundas Municipal Centre, and Fortinos locations around the city. The PRESTO card can also be loaded online.
PRESTO is developing a retail partnership which will allow for the sale and reload of PRESTO cards in additional locations throughout the GTHA. It is expected that the initial roll out will begin in Toronto with a pilot in spring 2017, with the remaining municipalities being rolled out in early 2018.
Once the agreement is finalized between Metrolinx and the retail partner an announcement will be made.
Transit users who have moved to the PRESTO card express a high-level of satisfaction regarding ease of use and convenience that the system provides.
There are also self-service devices currently available, however there have been some stability issues and staff we are waiting for the next generation of equipment to be available. These kiosks are available in Toronto at several subway stations as well as Union Station.
Hamilton’s participation in PRESTO is required in order to continue to receive provincial gas tax funding. The city receives approximately $10.7 million annually under this program. The Province announced in January that it intends to phase in a doubling of the provincial gas tax funding beginning in 2019.