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Read how Accenture helped the Ontario Ministry of Transportation introduce and manage an integrated electronic fare management system for public transit in the greater Toronto area.
The responsibility for managing the area’s transportation infrastructure and services falls to Metrolinx—an agency of the Government of Ontario committed to promoting a regional view to transportation and transit. Accenture was selected to design, develop, deploy and operate the seamless fare card system, dubbed PRESTO.
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Like other large metropolitan areas, Toronto suffers from significant traffic congestion. In fact, despite having the second-largest public transportation system in North America, the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area (GTHA) is the fourth-most congested urban area on the continent.
A recent report by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development confirms Toronto’s congestion woes and points to the fact that 71 percent of area residents rely on personal vehicles for their commutes. This dependence on automobiles presents a number of problems. In addition to high levels of pollution, Toronto area residents face some of the longest commutes in the developed world (averaging 79 minutes per day). This gridlock phenomenon translates into C$6 billion (about US$6.15 billion) in lost productivity each year. Making matters worse is the widely held belief that the GTHA’s population will rise by more than 2 million over the next 20 years. That most likely means another million cars on the road and an average commute time of more than two hours.
The provincial government clearly recognized that things needed to change and in 2006 established the Greater Toronto Transportation Authority. This agency—now known as Metrolinx—was tasked with developing a seamless transportation system that moves people and goods efficiently, economically and in an environmentally sustainable way. The agency’s Regional Transportation Plan, titled “Big Move,” outlined a set of strategies to develop reliable, convenient and fast transit, safer bikeways and walkways, and less congested roads. One of these strategies involved introducing a secure, multimodal fare card system for the region’s public transit.
At the time, each of the area’s public transit agencies had its own fare structure and fare-payment system. This meant that commuters taking multiple modes of transportation—buses, streetcars, trains or the subway—to reach their final destination had to pay multiple fares or have different transit passes, tickets or tokens for their trip. Metrolinx believed that an easy-to-use, integrated fare management system utilizing a single fare card would attract more public transit riders and offer a more consistent and seamless transit service.
The Ontario Government asked Accenture to not only help bring the vision for a GTHA public transit fare card system to life, but also manage the new system for 10 years. Several factors influenced this decision. Accenture had deep skills in systems integration and application management, as well as a proven fare management solution framework. We also brought vast experience in helping other public sector organizations such as The Netherlands Trans Link Systems national fare card program achieve high performance.
In 2006, Accenture was selected to design, develop, deploy and operate the seamless fare card system, dubbed PRESTO. The goal was to introduce the PRESTO system in a phased approach through 2011, ultimately accommodating more than 2 million passengers a day across the GTHA’s transit agencies.
As the prime systems integrator and project management lead, Accenture assumed overall responsibility for project delivery and, in particular, the:
With Accenture’s help, the Ontario Ministry of Transportation has created just such a fare management system for residents and transit agencies of the greater Toronto and Hamilton areas. The PRESTO system, currently being phased in across the region, represents a key component of the Ontario Government's "Big Move" strategy by encouraging an increase in transit ridership and a reduction in the community’s reliance on automobiles.
With less congestion, fewer automobile emissions and more convenient travel options, the initiative is a key enabler of the region’s continuing economic growth and a significant contributor to an improved urban quality of life. According to Kathleen Wynne, Minister of Transportation, “With PRESTO, commuters can travel across multiple transit systems with just one card—it's simple and convenient. This smart fare card is part of the McGuinty government's integrated transit plan to make public transit easier to use. Improving public transit is also part of the Open Ontario plan to create jobs and opportunities across the province."
Ultimately, the PRESTO system is expected to accommodate more than 2 million passengers each day. They will be able to travel from Hamilton to Oshawa to Ottawa, a distance of about 575 km (360 miles) with a single smart card. As stated by Ernie Wallace, Executive Project Director of PRESTO, customer convenience is a key benefit. “You can tap your card. It takes care of all your transactions and payments. From a customer convenience viewpoint, it’s secure. You don’t have to worry about where you are in a particular system, or whether you’ve crossed the boundary in the greater GTA. It gives you an integrated, transparent ride across the GTA. You can buy the card online. You can order it by phone. You can buy it from the service agents that are at the various GO stations.”
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