The only thing that is clear at this point is that a smart card would replace the current system of passes and tokens. How it would work in the context of the entire regional system and what else it would do is still a matter of speculation.
The idea has its supporters and detractors, as any idea does. Smart cards tend to polarize sides in a way other issues don’t, although I’m not sure why. In any case, I’m sure there are valid arguments on both sides, but surely anything has to be better than a system that until recently forced monthly pass purchasers to go to one location downtown to get their photos taken for their cards. Students still have to make that trek. But there’s no better argument for smart cards than as a reason to eliminate the TTC union salary of the employee who sits at the gate at the entrance to the subway below our building at Yonge and Sheppard. She doesn’t actually do anything — other than watch DVDs — because she doesn’t make change or sell tokens. In fact, you can’t get through the turnstile if you don’t have a token or pass, even if she’s there. In this month’s issue of TIG (see story p. 21), the Port of Vancouver’s security director talks about the challenges in deploying biometric smart cards to port employees due to the number of different employers. For the TTC, smart cards represent rider convenience. For the port, however, the stakes are much higher — for all of us.
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