Plan to sell Presto cards exclusively at Shoppers Drug Mart stores prompts concern about accessibility
Move will leave low-income neighbourhoods shortchanged, new report says
With the clock ticking on the Toronto Transit Commission's plan to phase out tokens, some are raising concerns the move to an exclusively Presto-based system will make it harder for people to purchase fares — specifically those living in low-income areas.
A new report presented at the TTC board Wednesday suggests that once tokens are phased out, a deal by Metrolinx to sell Presto cards only at Shoppers Drug Mart locations will leave whole neighbourhoods shortchanged.
Mike Sullivan, who has been living in Weston for 20 years, is among those worried about the arrangement between the provincial transit agency and Shoppers Drug Mart that would phase out Presto sales at any other corner stores.
"Here in this part of the city, we are in a Shoppers desert, if you will, because there's only two for 65,000 households," Sullivan said.
"What it means for people living here is a long commute to get your fare media, and there are many people who live here who don't have access to the internet, don't have credit cards."
Sullivan worries the change could negatively affect low-income residents, seniors and anyone with accessibility issues.
The report illustrates what the coverage areas for purchasing Presto cards will look like after the plan takes effect:
"If you're a person with a disability and you just reduce accessibility from 800 locations down to 125 — that's a huge human rights violation," Sullivan said.
"We are not going to meet the agreed-upon terms for accessibility on Presto. And the TTC, we'll be pushing back on that," he said.
"Our job is to make transit accessible to everybody and we've been in discussions with the TTC as to how we can fill those gaps because we share that concern," said spokesperson Annalise Czerny.
The Presto fare system has been plagued with issues in Toronto, including malfunctioning top-up machines and faulty card readers. The TTC logged 620 complaints about Presto in 2016.
With files from Lauren Pelley