Para Transpo information session and workshop: fares

Questions, comments or suggestions received

Session # 1 – Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Q1. Will we be able to pay for ParaPay with regular debit cards? Mine was not accepted and I do not like using my credit card.

A1. The ParaPay system uses the City of Ottawa’s payment system. This means that customers can pay using any debit card in person at an OC Transpo Customer Service Centre. Alternatively, you can pay online using the “Interac Online” service if your financial institution / bank has that option. “Interac Online” only accepts debit cards from the select institutions, which are ScotiaBank, Royal Bank, Bank of Montreal and Toronto Dominion, as well as Visa debit and MasterCard debit.

Q2. A system of ParaPay should be in place, when the final is close to end, customer should be notified to add more funds and any advantage of customers by drivers or vice versa.

A2. As part of the Overdraft process, we are going to start reminding customers when they get close to a $0 balance. In the event that a customer balance is negative, he/she will be advised at the time of their next booking. It is also worth noting that we are working on a way to automatically load funds when a customer balance drops below a certain point. This new feature will be called AutoLoad, and should be available in 2018.

Q3. For staff accompanying individuals, how are they supposed to pay with no bus tickets? Are their employers required to get Presto for staff?

A3. If their employer is currently providing them with tickets, these individuals would receive a “Single Ride Voucher” from their employer. A Single Ride Voucher is a replacement for tickets that is only available through select agencies or organizations who give them away at no cost to either customers or staff. Agencies or organizations who are interested in Single Ride Vouchers can contact OC Transpo Fare System Operations at for more information.

Q4. One of the biggest problems if you paper and only pay for yourself. No more bus tickets. I have to go get cash from my bank account. There has to be a better way than getting $1.90. With ParaPay you can only pay for yourself, not your companion, and now you need to carry a bunch of cash rather than tickets. More simplified for single users. but when making trips for multiple users, it becomes more complex. There is no other way to pay other than keeping 1.90

Q5. You can only pay for yourself. Making multiple payments for multiple people who previously paid with tickets.

A4-A5. Thank you for your feedback. We have sent your comments to the group continuing to develop ParaPay. We recognize that during this transition there may be some challenges. We understand the concern expressed and will see what options are available, if any, during this period.

Q6. Why are you using ParaPay when Toronto has a very efficient way I can tap my card, driver doesn’t need to write out a page. I load money on Presto and tap. Why use ParaPay when other places around the province have Presto?

Q7. Why not use Presto fare readers? They work well on WheelTrans. Less hassle.

Q8. In Toronto, I just tap my card. I load my card and tap. Why is it not the same here? Why are we not looking at different systems?

A6 – A8. This system was not available when the decision to create ParaPay was made. It was important that we create a system that would work with our Para Transpo customers. The system in Toronto is a brand new feature that Toronto’s WheelTrans is testing. This feature was not an option at the time when we needed to have a compatible way to pay on Para Transpo. We therefore had to develop our own system. To change over at this point would be very challenging, as it would involve changing many of our systems, which would affect many different groups and take a lengthy amount of time.

Q9. In regards to ParaPay, when you went paperless, our worker said that ParaPay was not an option for us, that they would only give us money for Presto. I have to admit, there is a lot of confusion between Presto and the users. I would like to see more communication between the social workers and agencies and yourself.

Q10. Her mother said the ParaPay cannot be used, as it is not ready/working and can only use Presto.

A9-A10. We will discuss this with our network of social agencies, including the City of Ottawa. ParaPay works in a similar way as Presto, and there shouldn’t be an issue. Brochures that explain how to load and use ParaPay are available for customers who want more information.

Q11. Passenger that used top up card and was thrown off the bus and using access pass - any change for top-up on ParaPay?

A11. The Access Pass is not designed for someone who predominantly uses Para Transpo rather than conventional buses / trains. On conventional buses / trains, the Access Pass covers the full fare, while it only gives customers a 1/3 discount on Para Transpo. In other words, customers would still have to pay 2/3 of the fare, or get a “no fare” slip and pay the balance later. If someone was not provided service rather than getting a slip, please call Customer Relations at 613-741-4390 to discuss your specific situation with them.

Q12. Thank you for ParaPay! It has made a huge difference to my family. The auto-renew feature will make it even better.

A12. Thank you for your comments. We expect AutoRenew to be available in 2018.

Q13. One point that OC Transpo can take back – the 3-day lead-time for Para and Presto. A lot of users are on ODSP- ODSP only pays on last day of the month. 3- day leeway is a problem.

A13. We understand this potential barrier. It takes approximately three business days to enter pass information into the ParaPay system. We will explore other possible solutions, such as the possibility of doing another run on the last day or first day of the month.

Q14. Will a receipt, as it is now, still be required to be carried if registered?

A14. We want to eliminate this. In the case of Presto on Para Transpo, no receipt is needed if your card is registered and we have made sure you have a monthly pass on it. If you have loaded your pass later than the deadline, however, you may need to show your receipt.

Q15. My question is in regards to writing down pass numbers and that sort of thing. I’m wondering if, with the new way, you won’t be required to write stuff down? I’m wondering it its possible to eliminate the choice? By that I mean, do not give the bus driver a book nor a pen to write in. Many drivers use any excuse they can, some, not many, to waste time so that other drivers have to cover their work.

I can think of a specific driver who wants to see my pass, the number, write everything down and it takes more than 5 mins. I have concerns in regards to the bus driver having the choice to write stuff down and waste time.

Q16. How do you register a monthly Presto pass to avoid having the driver write down the number, name, Para # EVERY trip?

Q17. Why write down card number EVERY time if it is a monthly pass? Surely, there is a way to flag the name on the schedule.

A15 – A17. Until we get the Presto passes on the Para Transpo system in place, we still need to track the Presto card numbers to let the drivers know that you have a pass. The new system will eliminate this step for those who have registered their Presto card and have a monthly pass. Please note, however, that if someone doesn’t want to use the new system, or if they haven’t loaded their monthly pass in time, the driver will still need to write down the Presto card information.

Q18. Fares should not be increased every 6 months.

A18. Fares are only increased once a year, unless directed otherwise by Council. We submit the recommended fare increase to the annual budget process for approval, with the fare changes taking effect on January 1, 2018.

Session # 2 – Saturday, January 13, 2018

Q19. Access and Community Pass – why don’t we cancel Access?

A19. The Access Pass is a good option for someone who often takes conventional buses or trains. It’s not a good choice for someone who mostly takes Para Transpo. See Q11 above for more information.

Q19. If someone’s medical situation will never change for their entire life, is this not a waste of time and money for both OC Transpo and the members. With budgets tighter and tighter, does it make sense to waste money?

Q19. We understand this point – however renewal is not just about medical information. It is equally about accurate customer records with up to date information in all areas. Please see the responses to the similar questions Q1 and Q8 above.

Q20. When are they going to have Presto machines on Para buses?

A20. Para Transpo buses don’t run on the same mobile systems as OC Transpo buses, and couldn’t pick up information from a Presto reader. And there’s not a portable Presto reader yet that can be used on our taxis. We therefore had to come up with another way to collect fares which was ParaPay. See Q6-Q8 for more information about a test in Toronto.

Q21. Why do we need to give a number when there is a number on the back of the Presto card?

A21. If you mean to register your card in advance, we need the number to check if you have a monthly pass before you board the bus / taxi, and then the driver confirms it’s the same card. Presto cards are transferable, so we have to be sure the card you’re showing us is the same one we already checked.

Q22. Will the Para Transpo customer on the review panel be matched to the disability type of the person who is applying?

A22. In the case of ParaPay, the system tells the driver directly when a customer has paid. Therefore, there is no number. For Presto, customers can print a copy of the email confirmation they receive to show they have loaded a pass. As an alternative, customers can print a screenshot of the main page of their account for that card (it shows the pass that was loaded on the left and the card number).

Q23. Is there any plan to eliminate the NFS on para Transpo? With the amount of choice for payment, including more than one affordable choice, filling out these forms are a waste of time.

Q24. Thank you for no more no fare slips.

A23–A24. The Presto on Para system will help some people, as the driver won’t have to fill out a Presto slip. No Fare Slips (NFS) which will be changed to a new Fare Invoice/Receipt in March 2018. We will however always be needed if someone doesn’t pay their fare as it is the customer’s record that the money is owed.

Q25. Since the City is amalgamated, can there be ONE fare structure for ALL Ottawa addresses? Para Transpo DOES NOT charge people extra to go to Gatineau, discouraging people from spending disposable income in Ontario.

A25. We are aware of concerns with respect to fares for rural trips. Rural residents pay a different tax for transit as they do not receive the same service level as those in the urban transit area. We’ll pass your comments along to our Planning team, however, there are no plans to make changes at this time. It is worth mentioning that trips to Gatineau are limited to their downtown core in the Hull sector, which is why we don’t charge extra for trips to these destinations.

Q26. Is there any plan to allow ParaPay customers to print a receipt for their monthly pass to use on conventional transit? I would only use conventional transit if I have a companion with me. Presto is too much of an inconvenience for these few times, but the ParaPass that I have spent $100+ on is essentially useless.

A26. There are no plans to make ParaPay compatible on conventional transit at this time. Operators on conventional transit would still have to inspect your receipt closely to make sure there is a pass on it. This can be time consuming. Presto is the best option to use on both systems. As mentioned previously, we are working to improve the Presto system to make it as easy as possible for customers of Para Transpo to use.

Q27. I am on ParaPay. Occasionally I need a companion. Why can’t I charge my companion’s fare to my ParaPay account?

A27. As it stands, the system is only set up for a single user. We will bring this feedback to the ParaPay project team for their review. Please see Q4-Q5 above for more detail.

Q28. Presto card has auto reload from debit (bank account), does ParaPay have the same capability?

A28. We are working on an AutoLoad system, but have not yet determined if it will work with a debit card. More information will be made available in 2018.

Q29. Presto card – will any stores be able to provide updates monthly or some other method other than computer or going to Rideau Centre. Not computer savvy.

A29. Did you know you can also load your Presto card by phone after registering with Presto? Call us to discuss if you would like. As it is now, you can update or load a card at four OC Transpo locations, three City of Ottawa Client Service Centres, and fare machines at four O-Train stations on the Trillium line (Line 2). There will be more machines added along the Confederation Line (Line 1) when it opens, plus other major Transitway stations. As of end of May 2018, you also will be able to load your card at 66 retail locations in the Shoppers Drug Mart / Loblaws / Real Canadian Superstore chains. Keep an eye on our website for more information.

Q30. How will you make sure the right person is notified about no pass/money? Next of kin vs. Para Passenger vs. group home.

A30. We will only share information with the contact person that has been identified on file. Our system allows us to enter contact information for customers who have a caretaker or guardian if needed. If your contact information isn’t up to date, please let us know.

Q31. How and when do we find out when we are over?

A31. We advise customers of their balance when they call to book a trip.

Q32. I am on ParaPay, but when I took my trip today, the money was not there. I have my receipt.

A32. We will look into this right away. It is likely an error in the system. If you have problems, please call 613-741-4390.

Q33. We were told by a City of Ottawa worker that we only have access to Presto, that the City of Ottawa is not ready for ParaPay.

A33. This is not correct. We will reach out to our partners at the City of Ottawa’s Community and Social Services Department regarding this comment. Please see Q9- Q10 above for more detail.

Q34. When will the capability to just show the Presto Pass be active?

Q35. You mentioned that you are fixing the Presto system. Do you have a date?

A34-A35. We are waiting for our software company to update us and anticipate being able to test in the next couple of months.

Q36. If someone travels to my house on OC Transpo and accompanies me on Para Transpo to the doctor, he should be able to get on Para, using a transfer. OC transfer from regular (with flexible window to allow for bus Para Transpo pick up window).

A36. This is currently not the policy. However, we will take away this suggestion and see if it can be considered within existing direction from City Council.

Q37. How do I know if my pass does not load? Maybe it did not - how do we know?

A37. For ParaPay, we communicate the balance on the account if it is close to $0 when the customer calls to book a trip. In this way, the customer would know if for any reason pass hasn’t loaded. If you are concerned that your pass has not loaded, please let us know when you call to book your next trip.

For Presto, customers can check their online account to see if a pass is pending (on the left side of the main screen, under your balance). As an alternative, customers can also call Presto directly.

Received to date by e-mail or other methods

Q38. Can one top-off ParaPay fares to assure that the balance is always positive?

A38. We will remind you when you get close to a zero balance. We are also working on an AutoLoad system for 2018.

If you feel unsafe, press the passenger assistance alarm

Passenger Assistance Alarms

Find them on all double-deckers, articulated buses and the O-Train!

Passenger Assistance Alarms

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You can buy or load your monthly transit pass up to 14 days before the start of the month.

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