New Presto Reader installed at College Station

A brand new Presto Reader has been installed at College Station!

Unfortunately, I’m not that excited about it. The new reader looks a lot less user friendly than the older style reader, pictured next, photo courtesy of the official Presto flickr account:So what’s wrong with the new reader? My thoughts:

  1. The older reader has a great flat face, with a clearly marked and large area to tap your card. The newer reader moves the area further down, and if the black bump is any indication, makes the area to tap your card smaller.
  2. The newer display is a waste of space, and no doubt drives up the cost of the unit. The old unit could easily display Please Proceed, the transaction details and Out of Order information.
  3. The new unit appears to be installed by Parkeon, whereas the rest of the GTA is using Thales readers. Given the imbroglio in Ottawa with faulty readers from another contractor, I feel like it would be in Presto’s best interest to keep Thales uniform across the GTHA for the sake of simplicity.

Even with these problems, both readers are positioned in a poor place. If a Presto card does produce an error, you have to back up and look at it. Every other smart card system in the world has done it right and have their readers integrated on the top of the turnstile, with simple lights to let you know of an issue.

Also, logos for debit and major credit cards are mysteriously absent from the reader. This doesn’t mean it may not be working, and tomorrow I’m definitely going to go check out my luck with my AmEx and Mastercard to see if I have any luck. Look forward to the update!

Update 12/07/2012: Tried to use a MasterCard this morning, the display gave an “invalid card error” with a big red X. However, my Presto card worked just fine.

Lastly, given the huge importance of the TTC’s Presto implementation, I wish they’d have a little discourse with the public on how things are going to work, and ask for input. I feel like if this design of a reader was put to the public, it would be shot down in favour of the older one. As well,  changing to this system will be a huge shock, and who knows how well the TTC will advertise and educate riders on the new system.

  • Devon Watters

    Looks temporary.

    • http://www.al-chemical.com/ Alex Ruppel

      I don’t care for the design, but I hope it’s not temporary. Given the costs involved in hardware/software/installation, I don’t see why they’d attempt to use temporary ones. If you have any info though on why you think so, I’d be excited to hear! Not enough people are getting excited about this new system. 

      I only hope they just need to activate and throw some MC/VISA/Amex stickers on these devices. The Star article on the upcoming Open Payment system made it sound as if new hardware would be needed. To me, the RFID readers should be pretty agnostic and versatile to any sort of card, it should just be a firmware change. If it’s a security thing, I would hope that the communication between the terminals and the data center is PCI DSS compliant already, considering at least that the communication between the MiFare card and the reader is encrypted. 

  • prescience21

    Well I guess I still have a Disqus account. What an embarrassing picture. PRESTO is a hot mess waiting to expand in the GTA. The education part is the hardest considering a lot of the population are immigrants, yadda yadda.

    • http://www.al-chemical.com/ Alex Ruppel

      Presto did a great job expanding in the GTA! It needs to expand in Toronto proper is what it needs to do. Metrolinx, the always excellent shining example of a transit agency, has and continues to do great PR on Presto Card. My interactions with station level, phone level and twitter level staff have always been exceptional. 

      Metrolinx even have a “Presto Card Café” that they do at Union Station to help educate! I would deem it a success, considering how welcome adoption was among GO Riders (then again, I think it is fair to say that GO Riders are seasoned transit veterans). They’re also many immigrants in their ranks too, so I don’t think it’s fair to discriminate on that ground!

  • http://twitter.com/smartssa Darryl E. Clarke

     They should be top mounted and angled up for easier viewing like Oyster readers in the UK. PRESTO is leaving a lot to be desired.  It’s not like this concept is ‘new'; other cities have had this stuff for years. Just copy them already. :)

    • http://www.al-chemical.com/ Alex Ruppel

      Totally agree, OPUS in Montreal is top mounted. The turnstiles we have look like they’ve been there forever, and I feel like that’s never going to change :(. As I mentioned here, http://goo.gl/kkZpL , London has had Oyster since 1997! 

  • Manic

    I hear this device is accepting Credit Cards, has anyone tried it?

    • Alex

      Was totally surprised to see today that they had MC and VISA logos on the reader. Tried my MC and it worked perfectly! Will blog an update shortly!

    • http://www.al-chemical.com/ Alex Ruppel

      Tried it earlier today, and it worked perfectly. Have a photo and will post a write-up of the experience (however short it was:P)