The transit service is also reminding customers who are returning to its system after taking a COVID-19 hiatus about the importance of tapping on and off the GO trains.
GO Transit is asking customers to check the balance of their PRESTO cards and, if necessary, load them before getting to the station after seeing a slight uptick in fare evasion rates on GO trains.
On average, the transit service said 97 per cent of GO Transit riders are paying their fares. However, in recent weeks, that number has dropped to around 95 per cent.
“I think it’s fair to say it’s taking some people a little while to get back into regular routines, which includes tapping on and off the trains with their PRESTO cards,” said Bill Grodzinski, GO Transit’s Chief Special Constable and Director of Transit Safety. “We expect this won’t be as much of an issue as customers start travelling with us more regularly during the next few weeks.”
Grodzinski notes historically, GO Transit does see a slight increase in fare evasion around this time of year, which he loosely attributes to people transitioning from their summer vacations back into their regular commuting schedules.
“What we often hear from customers is that they’ve had some time off, were running late on their first morning back and forgot they needed to add money to their PRESTO card,” he said. “I think that’s kind of similar to what we’re seeing right now. Some customers haven’t been on our trains since March and it’s taking them a few trips to get back into their routines.”
The good news, Grodzinski said, is unlike in previous years, there are now many touchless ways customers can quickly, conveniently, and easily pay for their fares.
Back in June, the PRESTO app received a major update that gives both Android and iOS users the ability to add funds instantly to their PRESTO cards with NFC enabled phones.
As well, customers now have the ability to buy an e-ticket online before leaving home (or just about anywhere else). Once activated, e-tickets just need to be shown, if requested, for a visual inspection.
And, perhaps still one of the easiest ways Grodzinski suggests to ensure there are always funds available on your PRESTO card, is to setup Autoload. This feature reloads PRESTO cards automatically when the balance drops below a dollar amount that’s determined by the customer. Setting it up is simple and it can be done in just a few steps at prestocard.ca
“As we welcome more and more customers back to our service, we want to make it as easy, safe, and comfortable as possible,” said Trish Colley, Metrolinx Vice President of Customer Service Delivery. “We know our customers are dealing with a lot right now and many of them haven’t been on board our trains in months – and as we all know, a lot has changed since then.”
One of the biggest changes that will literally be in the faces of customers is GO’s mandatory face covering policy. All customers are now required to wear some kind of face covering while in GO stations, on platforms, and onboard vehicles. Frontline staff are reporting about 98 per cent of customers are regularly wearing face coverings.
However, Metrolinx officials have said they understand there will always be a few riders who will not be able to wear face coverings due to pre-existing health conditions, and they’ve asked everyone to be understanding in those situations. They’ve also said their goal is to educate customers about the benefits of face coverings and are reassuring customers no one will be left behind.
Colley also notes Metrolinx has introduced more than 40 other health and safety actions to help keep customers safe, adding on-board safety measures continue to expand and evolve as the province moves through a phased return to normal.
Those measures currently include the roll out of dividers between train and bus seats, hand sanitizer dispensers in stations and onboard vehicles, and a comprehensive vehicle and station cleaning regiment that has staff constantly wiping down touch-points.
There have even been changes that prioritize the health and safety of customers during fare inspections. Staff members who are checking fares will now be equipped with face coverings, face shields, rubber nitrile gloves, and hand sanitizer for everyone’s added safety. They will also be doing their very best to respect customers’ personal space in an effort to maintain physical distance while checking fares and face covering compliance.
To help navigate the recent changes in practises and policies, Metrolinx has put together a comprehensive guide about all the adjustments customers returning to their regular routes should expect to see, while still staying safe during these unprecedented times.
Story by Matt Llewellyn, Metrolinx spokesperson and senior adviser, media relations and issues.