In a move that might surprise some readers to whom I appear a dedicated technophobe, I have a Presto card and like it. It works on the bus or OTrain when I try to use it.
But reloading it is another issue. Register. Set secret passcodes. Register with Visa Online, with secret passcode. Go through various steps, hoping I get it right. Remember secret passodes, damn what were they? Have I loaded it? Damn, did I just lose every thing? Hey, it timed out ! Dunno, log on again later to see if it worked. All is lost if I lose my cheat sheet. And I gotta do it for the wife too.
Frankly, it’s not technophobe-friendly. It stresses me to use the reload function. I don’t want more stress in my life.
So it was with increased interest that I reloaded by Massachusetts Transit Card, while in Boston last week. The Charlie Card – named after the Charles River that runs through Boston – looks much better than the Ottawa card.
It’s more fun. Ottawa, of course, is the town fun forgot.
There is a nominal charge to acquire a Charlie Card, but an attendant at the booth gave us ones, free. Walk up to a pop-sized vending machine, insert cash, or a credit card, or debit card, or even a Canadian credit card, select the amount of money to put on the card, tap it to the touch pad, and before you can say presto, its uploaded.
And it works right away.
Each station had groups of these machines. No need to go to the bike-rack-free Rideau Centre or out to Lincoln Fields (assuming those offices will reload a card…). No secret codes.
Heck, even the back of the Charlie Card was more fun. And no funny signature panels. Or expiry date.
Maybe, by 2017 when the new Ottawa LRT stations open, they will have modern technology too.