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Simple swipe will soon buy Metropass

Debit payment coming to eight subway stations GTA-wide

fare card also being considered


The Toronto Transit Commission is turning to debit cards to make more friends among commuters.

Riders should be able to use debit cards at eight subway stations next month as another way to purchase Metropasses.

“Today, if you have to go to a collector and you have to pull out five $20 bills, there may be some resistance to that. Not everybody has that kind of money in their pocket,” said Vince Rodo, general secretary at the TTC.

“The debit-card technology is so well-embedded in this culture that we think it’s time.”

Four stations — Yonge-Bloor, Union, Dundas and Davisville — already allow credit card purchase and have the infrastructure to accept debit cards.

If TTC commissioners pass a motion at their meeting today, Finch, Downsview, Kennedy and Kipling stations will also be outfitted with debit card technology in time to issue July Metropasses.

It will cost $65,000 to install debit card technology at the eight stations, and a study is underway to estimate how much more it will cost to outfit the rest of the stations with the necessary conduits, cables and electrical hookups.

“Not everywhere is wired and it’s not a matter of simply running a wire,” Rodo said. “We’ve got to know where it is because we’re always doing work and you can’t cut the wire.”

Rodo said the TTC will also run a pilot project at Finch station allowing riders to use a vending machine to buy Metropasses with their debit cards.

The TTC is also considering an idea from Bell Canada and Dexit Inc. that would see the companies install technology along the Yonge-University subway line — at no cost to the TTC — allowing fares to be paid by Dexit’s cash cards.

“It’s clearly designed for consumers not to have to look for tokens, not to have to look for change,” said Dexit president Renah Persofsky.

Debit card use will actually save the TTC money compared to credit card use. Credit card companies charge the TTC a fee of anywhere from 1.5 per cent to 3 per cent of the total purchase, or about $1.50 to $3 per adult monthly Metropass, while debit charges amount to “pennies per transaction,” Rodo said.

“We’d much rather have the debit card than the credit.”

The TTC is also looking into a GTA-wide fare card, allowing commuters to transfer from one transit system to another using the same fare technology.