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Toronto Public Library - free Presto cards

  • Last Updated:
  • Jul 3rd, 2022 8:44 pm
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User avatar
Sep 30, 2001
29584 posts
9131 upvotes
Toronto
ibuddler wrote: Thanks. Should I get one if I live in Toronto? Haven't used the public transit yet but is it better to get it now or it will always be free?
I dunno. If you have the time I guess so, but this program is really for people who use transit and can't get one otherwise. If Presto embraces credit cards this will be largely unnecessary.
Be kind and civil with one another
Sr. Member
Dec 20, 2018
804 posts
1228 upvotes
kthxbye wrote: Presto is a joke. I've been to second world countries with better systems.
Public transit systems in many middle-income countries are quite excellent. Developing countries develop, interestingly. Someone call the IMF to use some more debt traps and stop this madness!
Outlaw ellipses and apostrophes.
Deal Addict
Oct 18, 2016
2105 posts
4794 upvotes
I just walked in. Asked and they give to you. Please don't hoard. Just get it if you are planning to use it.
Deal Addict
Jun 13, 2009
1091 posts
841 upvotes
Toronto
peji911 wrote: I would kill someone to get a Toronto library card. My city has few books to loan on Libby.
Do you work in Toronto? If so, you are eligible to get a library card.
Deal Addict
Sep 13, 2004
4629 posts
2100 upvotes
Toronto
There are a lot of things that the TPL does to improve access to Toronto facilities for folks that don't have much money. They don't like to make that explicit since it becomes yet another barrier. If you can afford to pay for a Presto card, I suggest you leave these cards for those who cannot.

On another point, I remember being annoyed that York Region residents could get free Presto Cards but Toronto residents could not.
Deal Addict
Jun 13, 2009
1091 posts
841 upvotes
Toronto
krist8 wrote: A number of year back, TTC was still using paper tickets and tokens. It said it is too expensive to convert to a card system. Then all of a sun den, Presto card is in. What happened to the expense? My speculation is that the users pay for the system cost by paying for the card. It is a clever plan.
Not sure they got their $1.2 billion back as of yet Face With Tears Of Joy. And that was just for development.. Does not include operating costs as far as I know.
Sr. Member
Jun 9, 2009
990 posts
247 upvotes
Hamilton
Jruuu wrote: Do you work in Toronto? If so, you are eligible to get a library card.
Nope. Closest is my wife works in Caledon…. Not even sure they have an online library lol
Deal Addict
Sep 13, 2004
4629 posts
2100 upvotes
Toronto
ADRiiAN` wrote: We hate it too at Metrolinx. Every time there is a new party, we just know things will blow up.

It’s frustrating that it’s hard to get into places like the TTC and Metrolinx, because the competition is a bit tough. They hire some really skilled people who can plan well, all for a politician to come in and blow it all up because they love subways.
Amen (from a citizen)!

Miller's "Transit City" still looks good to me. It would have been built by now. Instead, we're going to get the counter-productive Scarborough subway extension. It might be good to bury so much of the Eglinton LRT, but it is taking forever to get built, seems very expensive and has few access points.

Extending Yonge Subway is a natural idea but
  • the line is already at capacity, so how will it handle the new load?
  • a line that long needs some kind of express system
  • we don't need more things forcing Toronto to be a hub-and-spoke city
It is clear that transit is so expensive that the decisions have to be made by politicians. I just wish that they were for the right reasons.

Fun fact: the first TTC subway was paid for by TTC fares, not by taxes.
Sr. Member
Apr 27, 2010
636 posts
278 upvotes
Catenary wrote: Presto implementation began back in 2006, and was state-of-the-art at the time. Contactless payment was functionally non-existent, the iPhone didn't exist, and cellular networks weren't strong enough to support real-time connections to transit vehicles, so account based ticketing wasn't feasible.

Unfortunately, when Presto was finally fully rolled out, state-of-the-art was moving on to account based ticketing which supports open payments. It's been the catch up to that that's been a very slow process.
Presto was in trial until 2009, and wasn’t implemented on the TTC until 2011. Canadian banks were one of the first to adopt contactless payments from MasterCard, with almost all banks issuing them by 2008.

I had to double check the dates, because I remember thinking it was weird to spend hundreds of millions to roll out archaic tech at the time.

Like all things Canadian government, they took the least upgradable path so they could double bill taxpayers for upgrade costs.
Deal Addict
Apr 7, 2020
1506 posts
5323 upvotes
Lived in toronto for 30 years and never had a library card. This might finally be the thing to get me to sign up (2 birds, 1 stone).
Sr. Member
Feb 28, 2006
514 posts
411 upvotes
Catenary wrote: Presto implementation began back in 2006, and was state-of-the-art at the time. Contactless payment was functionally non-existent, the iPhone didn't exist, and cellular networks weren't strong enough to support real-time connections to transit vehicles, so account based ticketing wasn't feasible.

Unfortunately, when Presto was finally fully rolled out, state-of-the-art was moving on to account based ticketing which supports open payments. It's been the catch up to that that's been a very slow process.
Presto was GO Transit only for the initial years, it was in trial starting 2007, the rollout wasn't even generally usable until 2010. And TTC didn't even start implementing until 2011, and it took until 2016 before it's in enough of the subway stations, streetcars, and buses for it to be widespread. By then it's already archaic. It doesn't matter what technology is used if the rollout takes 10 years, let alone the start was already years behind others.

I've travelled extensively in Asia and Europe, and I can tell you almost all the cities have better fare card systems than Toronto, for a much longer time. Hong Kong had the Octopus card since 1997, and within the first couple years, it was already widespread and used by most people in the entire system. In China, the fare card systems is already obsolete, most people have transitioned to Wepay and Alipay, universal payment systems instead of transit specific ones.
Sr. Member
Dec 20, 2018
804 posts
1228 upvotes
What makes this frustrating is that the province's slowness gave it the opportunity to learn from others' mistakes. Instead we have people that must think oh my gord I went to xyz on vacation and they have closed payment systems on cards. We must have closed payments on cards. If only these people went on vacation to places that use open systems.
Outlaw ellipses and apostrophes.
Deal Addict
Nov 3, 2009
1702 posts
1071 upvotes
Calgary
Jruuu wrote: Do you work in Toronto? If so, you are eligible to get a library card.
Can I get one if I work in Richmond Hill but stay in Toronto? Just don't have a bank statement with my Toronto address tho and no hydro bills or other bills Face With Tears Of Joy
Jr. Member
Nov 23, 2018
113 posts
63 upvotes
@peji911
Yeah, I used to pay for a NYC card and it was cheaper and had 10x the selection as the TPL.

As a prime member, I get a lot of books for free through prime reading and the ones I need to get, are much cheaper than $120 for a library card through various online book sellers. I spend less and get to keep the book, loan it, etc.

I lived living in Toronto until I finally moved out and realized how unnecessarily expensive it is. Charging $120 for a library pass for non-residents is extremely expensive.
So I guess you wouldn’t kill someone for a Toronto Public Library card then lol
Last edited by omsi101 on Oct 19th, 2021 7:07 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Sr. Member
Feb 28, 2006
514 posts
411 upvotes
vinnie1990 wrote: with the pilot of credit card tap at the terminals, I don't see how Presto is really required anymore. Long overdue as the whole presto platform is rather archaic given we could've always just used phones/watches/digital-wallets to tap, but obviously they wanted to do a money grab play.

These cards should've been free to begin with... and the fact you have to pay for a new one if its lost, even if its registered is quite absurd. - end rant

none the less, its free, so the deal is good :)
Unfortunately I think we're well past the point that the sunk cost fallacy is in effect. It's hard for them to back out of using Presto given how much is already spent into it.

Having a separate payment system isn't necessary a bad thing, given the high fees of credit cards. It's partly why 3rd-party payment systems were able to thrive despite the credit card giants, competing with them by extracting lower fees. It might had been a good idea to use credit cards a decade ago before we already invested in so much infrastructure for Presto.

I agree thought the costs of the Presto cards is too high. Might have been better if they use a deposit system instead like the Octopus card.
Member
Aug 13, 2018
326 posts
362 upvotes
yesnomaybe wrote: If you use the app the balance gets updated instantaneously
Yes, the app does update it instantly.

The balance itself is stored on the physical presto card. Encrypted so you can't change it, but presto devices can. The system is designed to work even when there is no internet. When you refill online, the balance is not on your card yet. At the same time, presto devices are designed to work offline. Take example buses that only return to the shed once a day. This information must be propagated to the readers everywhere on the network, including the ones on the bus that sync only once a day. When you tap your card, the reader updates the balance on your card. In reality, if you tap a terminal connected online, you'd never need to wait 24 hours. Nevertheless, you must tap so the balance can be updated.

Now, your phone with NFC support essentially becomes a presto device. It writes the new balance on your card so you can use it on any device. If internet was required for processing like a credit card, it would be instant. (of course metrolinx can also adopt a credit card model, where if the reader was offline and you have insufficient balance, the agency would cover the loss - just as now if you use a credit card at an offline terminal, the merchant won't know the transaction is declined until they process it once online, but why would they).

The fact the app lets the balance update instantly just emphasises the limitation of the technology. We just have more tools these days to lessen the limitations.

This limitation appears in almost every major transit card in the world. Every engineer designing and implementing the system has decided its more important to allow cards to work offline - and for the agency to not cover a loss, than to create an online system.
Deal Addict
Jul 22, 2019
2505 posts
3284 upvotes
krist8 wrote: A number of year back, TTC was still using paper tickets and tokens. It said it is too expensive to convert to a card system. Then all of a sun den, Presto card is in. What happened to the expense? My speculation is that the users pay for the system cost by paying for the card. It is a clever plan.
I suspect someone had connections and thats how they chose Presto. It's such a terrible outdated system plagued with problems. Basically this smells like corruption.
Penalty Box
Jun 20, 2020
17142 posts
22934 upvotes
Toronto
simplypop wrote: I suspect someone had connections and thats how they chose Presto. It's such a terrible outdated system plagued with problems. Basically this smells like corruption.
TTC had already negotiated a deal with another "off the shelf" fare card provider. The province used “political blackmail,” to “coerce” the TTC into going with Presto,

https://ottawasun.com/2012/12/13/presto ... -gone-wild
https://www.thestar.com/news/canada/201 ... ttack.html
Destiny is all
Newbie
Oct 16, 2013
47 posts
37 upvotes
Mississauga
Presto is just as outdated now as tokens were when the TTC still used them. In Asia they are paying for everything with credit card/NFC taps, from transit to groceries to government bills. One system fits all. Here we must fiddle with rocks like Neanderthals.
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User avatar
Nov 3, 2006
3778 posts
284 upvotes
YUL
Consider yourselves lucky. In Montreal, the policy in place is that we must replace our Opus cards every 4 years, and pay $6 every time. What a load of bollocks.

And also, the techology (Calypso) stores ticket information instead of a monetary balance, which means if we ever want to upgrade to open payment or whatever, we most likely need to blow up the existing system and start from scratch.
Last edited by twotterdhc6 on Oct 19th, 2021 8:56 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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