At top: a large-scale version of the new July Metropass. At bottom, the set of new passes, to scale, with July’s monthly pass off to the far right.
Earlier this morning at their head offices, the TTC announced changes to its Metropass fleet, with the aim of making counterfeiting, as Chief General Manager Gary Webster put it, a “tougher issue for the bad guys”—and with the not altogether unintended consequence of making the passes a little nicer to look at now, and a lot nicer to look at as of April next year.
As Webster explained, counterfeit passes right now cost the TTC about two million dollars a year, and the challenge is “visual verification”: the magnetic strip on the TTC’s back has “never been counterfeited,” but when a human being is the one doing the verifying—say, an operator trying to quickly fill a busy streetcar—it’s significantly harder to catch a fake pass that looks all but identical to a real one. The TTC is working on introducing a universal fare card system, like London’s Oyster, but doing so will take time, Chair Adam Giambrone said today, and may cost “hundreds of millions of dollars.”
Adam Giambrone displays the July Metropass with, and without, sticker.
Enter, for now, a new hologram, and a new sticker. As of July 1, the passes will feature both: the sticker, like those that come with new credit cards, must be removed before the card is first used (preventing ticket agents from returning their used passes to the TTC for a refund as “unsold”), and the hologram makes the pass significantly harder to duplicate and fake cards significantly easier for operators to spot. Webster and Chair Adam Giambrone said today that the Metropass change will, in spite of costing $250,000, likely save the TTC eight times that.
More excitingly, though, was the other significant aesthetic change to the passes that’s coming soon: art. We first wrote in May that the TTC was looking to team up with public institutions—like OCAD, the AGO, and the ROM—to get art on the pass, and today Adam Giambrone made it official: the pass, he said, will be “redesigned…to include art” by April 2010, with the TTC issuing a request for expressions of interest from institutions this August.
All photos by David Topping/Torontoist.