Metrolinx #Fails At Using Social Media To Convince Presto Card Users That Nothing Is Wrong With The Presto Card

You might recall that I have written about the Presto Card in the past. This is a transit payment system for the Greater Toronto and Ottawa areas that is similar to London’s Oyster card. And it’s a transit payment system that has a reputation for being incredibly unreliable. The latest example of this popped up today with this story of a woman who loaded her Presto card, which then malfunctioned as she boarded a commuter train, and she was slapped with a $240 fine when she was deemed to be a fare evader. In that story, a Metrolinx spokesperson said this:

Metrolinx said it’s extremely rare for Presto cards to have problems. The company advises riders that because of their zero-tolerance policy, that went into effect in the spring of 2019, if you have trouble paying with your card before boarding the train you should see a customer service agent. 

“You could end up in a situation where you are confronted by a transit safety officer or one of our revenue protection officers and because you won’t have proof of payment and our zero tolerance approach you will likely be ticketed,” Metrolinx media relations spokesperson Matt Llewellyn said.

Cue the blowback. I browsed Twitter and found these examples:


I even added my comments into this as my wife has three Presto cards to ensure that she doesn’t get into this situation. That’s right, three of them. More on that in a moment. But first here’s what I posted to Twitter:

So back to why my wife has three Presto Cards for the following reasons:

  • She’s experienced situations where one card is rejected at a Presto terminal. But another card works at the same terminal.
  • One card may need to be reloaded. But it may take a day or sometimes two before that card works properly again after the reloading process if the balance was close to $0 before she reloaded it.
  • The third card is a spare.

Now I rarely take public transit. But I do have a Presto Card and when my wife finds out that I am going to take transit, she will literally force me to take one of her three cards with her because “you need to have an option in case you run into issues with Presto.” And there’s been a couple of times in my few trips on public transit where she’s been right about that. And as you can see from my Tweet above, she’s not the only one who feels that way. Her co-workers do some version of what she does for the same reason. And in talking to people that I know, it’s the same with them. As in they have multiple Presto Cards.

Clearly something is seriously wrong with Presto. Now Metrolinx understandably wants to push back on this, and here’s how they went about it. I got these two Tweets in response to my Tweets:

Here’s the problem. Whomever runs the Twitter account for Metrolinx is copying and pasting some version this response to anyone who has posted something today. To see this in action, simply click this link which will take you to the Metrolinx Twitter account so you can see the repetitive responses in action. This is a #fail because a copy and paste response to people who based on the scale and volume of these Tweets clearly have problems with the product or service that you offer does not say “we hear your frustration, we are sorry and we will do something to fix this.” It instead says that “we want this to go away, so we’ll say something that hopefully will allow that to happen sooner rather than later.” And based on what people on Twitter are coming back with, the rather lame attempt of Metrolinx to make this issue go away is doing next to nothing win over the hearts and minds of its customers. Thus this is a great example of a social media fail of epic proportions.

If I were Metrolinx, I’d do the following:

  1. Stop sending out these copy and paste Tweets immediately.
  2. Acknowledge there are problems with Presto Cards. Because it’s pretty clear that there are problems with these cards, and denying that they exist or is minimal in scope is not working for them. And do it outside of social media.
  3. Apologize for said problem. And do it outside of social media.
  4. Tell Presto Card users in detail what they are going to do to fix it, and when that will happen. Then stick to it. Metrolinx could use social media to provide status updates.

The fact is that the Presto Card does have the potential of being a piece of a larger puzzle to get more people onto public transit. Which will take cars off the road and lower our carbon footprint among other things. But the card’s clear and obvious reliability issues will keep that from happening. And it’s time that Metrolinx step up to the plate and do what I suggested above or something like it. If they don’t, they may find that it may be difficult if not impossible for them to be taken seriously as being able to provide the regions that they cover with transit that is easy to use.

2 Responses to “Metrolinx #Fails At Using Social Media To Convince Presto Card Users That Nothing Is Wrong With The Presto Card”

  1. Don’t forget they also have the audacity to charge $6 per card for Presto so your wife had to invest $18 just in cards alone (none of which she will ever get back as a fare).

    Further, to add insult to injury, this is also the day after TTC announced a fare increase that’s going to be for Presto users only, not cash fares

  2. Anon User that knows 100 percent Says:

    She had a missed tap off charge as she didnt tap off her last go trip and got a $15 end of the line charge from that $17 she had, leaving $2 not enough for the fare an still got on. Go is distance based and she is one who doesnt tap off and gets charged to end of line- also she is a multi time fare evader because she has a $240 fine which starts at $100 and escalates to $140, $200 $240 so this is the 4th time she got caught. CTV didnt investigate proper and if anyone bothered to ask her to show her Jan 5 travel report they’d see she had a missed tap off to the end of the line from a week earlier that got taken when she tapped leaving her NSF for the trip and she still boarded.

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