PRESTO ! Your tax money disappears !!!
OTAG searches for the magic money with OC transpo’s new Smart card system


In response to shocking allegations raised in the Provincial Legislature The Ottawa Taxpayer Advocacy Group is asking for new scrutiny on OC Transpo’s plan to initiate the Presto Card for payment on its buses throughout 2012. “There is new information that points at a potential scandal with Presto “said Kevin MacDonald, President of OTAG. MacDonald is making reference to MPP Frank Klees’s suggestion that the Presto affair is comparable to the E-Health scandal.  The E-Health scandal was also repeated by Nick Kouvalis on a local radio station on Feb 28th. Kouvalis, Toronto Mayor Rob Ford’s former Chief of Staff emphasized the existence of coercion from the provincial government.


Presto is a program that allows users to pay for transit using a plastic card similar to interac. The controversy surrounding this program goes back several years. The Province introduced Presto through Metrolinks and is responsible for pushing the projected billion dollar program to cities across Ontario. After tendering the smart card program the province imposed the Presto card on the Toronto Transit Commission, despite being ten times as much as the competint bidder, CVS Zerox.  TTC tried to push back, as a result the Province offered to pay the $300 million installation cost. OTAG wonders if the City is also demanding that the Province pay for Presto since they are insisting that property tax payers buy a more expensive system.  “Not only was the Xerox program cheaper, most analysts with long titles agree it was far superior technology. “ MacDonald says.

John Quinn, media relations for Xerox confirmed to OTAG the existence of a Request for Proposals (RFP) from the city of Ottawa but was unable to speculate as to why the City went with Presto. The Transit Commission Chair Diane Deans owes taxpayers an explanation. “ We believe the Auditor General needs to investigate the Presto program and the circumstances surrounding it being chosen as the program for OC Transpo.”  Klees and Kouvalis both believe there is involvement from the same circle of partisan lobbyists responsible for larger province wide spending scandals.  “ This will be bigger than E-Health “ Kouvalis said. 

Keith Egli, City Councilor for Knoxdale Manordale and ranking member of the Transit committee acknowledges concerns around the council table. “There is some hesitancy” Egli said “ It does not address ‘open payment’ and at this point it is Transit only and not other City services.”

Nick Kouvalis is expected to elaborate on his Presto experience during his speech at The “Government Innovation Conference “  at Jean Pigott place on March 8th.

Kevin MacDonald
President, Ottawa Taxpayers Advocacy Group