They say talk is cheap, but I am inclined to take John Manconi at his word every time he says something. After yesterday's Presto meeting, Mr. Manconi was quoted as saying that if Metrolinx can't get its rabbit to jump out of the hat by August, he is prepared to move on to Plan B.
Here at Drives in Circles, we assigned our crack investigation team to find out just what Plan B might be.
We began by inquiring as to the possibility of Clever Devices taking the project over. Clever Devices you will remember is the company that gave us the billingual-sounding Next Stop Announcement System featuring the vocal stylings of the artist formerly known as Clive Doucet's son. "Buckskin. BOOOk-skank."
While the opportunity to integrate existing systems with a new card reader makes sense on many levels, renaming Presto to Presto-PoussezOrteille seemed a little over-the-top, and the idea was scrapped. We got back to the drawing board, and pondered where else we could find a cheap alternative to Presto.
We found ourselves at WalMart, a store world renound for it's cheap knock-off merchandise. Among the shelves full of Pandasonix and Energypsum batteries, we found out that the Tim Hortons inside the store had smart-card readers in full operation! You can load the cards online, use MasterCard or a debit card, and the system is up an running with absolutely no fatal software flaws whatsoever. Tim Hortons would not, however, sell us the readers. A quick survey of the clientele found that most people would rather that OC Transpo serve Tim Hortons coffee on the buses than find ways to take their money electronically, but I digress.
Our next stop was a quick tour through corporate Canada. Did you know that Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment is one of the deepest pocketed corporations in all of Canada? They also have holdings in many technology companies. Although the acronym MLesto seemed a little "off", we still met with the bidders and explored the technology they offered. The card readers were very flashy, especially when located behind their net. But the system seemed to attract very loud, boisterous and drunk passengers wearing Doug Gilmour jerseys (two sizes too tight, I might add). Rowdy buses aside, every Smartcard sold came with a first round draft pick. Unfortunately, the readers all exploded in early April.
Dejected, we Googled "Fix Presto problems". Now that my friends, is what you call a Plan B. Google can fix anything. After seven hundred clicked links, we stumbled upon the ultimate correction tool for all software problems:
As you can see, Autocorrect has supplied an unorthodox solution to our software problems. (And Breast O was born) You know, the Laleche League of Canada has long stated that children who use Breast O cards grow up to be much smarter, well adjusted children as compared to kids that use cash. They are also twice as less likely to grow up to be bus drivers. Talk about a win-win!
The idea was scrapped after a few complaints about the readers being too sensitive after a long day, and that they are NOT toys you bloody insensitive pigs.
The installation crew continues to struggle to remove the readers, as the latches that hold them in place are located behind the machines under a fabric sheet, and are embarrassingly difficult to unhook when distracted and in a hurry.
We now understand Metrolix's conundrum. Nobody can fix this mess, and a Plan B will have to be a complete rethink of the problem. So here is what we came up with...
The RetroPrestoCadabra Card.
The SmartCard will be made of two credit card sized leather strips, sewn together to form a pouch. We will then ask our customers to log onto their computers or smartphones, and then place a twoonie, a loonie, and a quarter into the SmartCard pouch. Upon boarding the bus, you place the SmartCard over the fare box, and empty the contents into the slot in the top.
Then the driver will give you a SmartTransfer, and in my case... a smile and a Thank You!