PRESTO, Change-O! – Helping Seniors With Ticket Kiosks

PRESTO Kiosks at GO Transit stations

I normally take GO Transit via the train into Toronto. It’s very accomodating when I decide to go into the downtown core for a workshop or conference. I have the option to TTC whether subway or streetcar as well. I also have to give thanks for the GTA for adopting a smart card transit pass system, in PRESTO. However, the rollout of PRESTO has had its shares of faulty usage, exploits by customers, and just not overall smart as it was promised to be.

My focus today was with the process of buying a single ride ticket. While I have adopted the PRESTO pass, there are some commuters who have not adopted the card system. Thus you’ll need to purchase a one-ride ticket from the ticket counter or a tickets kiosk.

The ticket kiosk is a catch-all attempt to address commuters needing one-ride tickets, or reloading PRESTO cards with money. As I was heading to my westbound track platform, I notice an old woman struggling with the kiosk. She asked me if I could help with her purchasing a ticket. I had time to spare so I offered assistance.

Looking at the kiosk screen was relatively easy to follow for me. However, the woman had an issue with reading some of the text and making sense of the icons. Maybe it was the lighting, but I could not find a way to enhance the display. Afterwards, we moved on to the next step finding our location of travel. We needed to type in our destination of Burlington, however not the station but another; Aldershot. Once we settled that it was time to select the ride type: 1-ride, 2-ride, or day pass. 1-ride was all she required. However here’s the next hurdle, the only option to purchase was adult fare. There was no option to either select child or senior fare rate. Unfortunately she had to settle for adult fare. Next step was to process the payment. She wanted to pay cash, however it was hard to locate the cash slot, as the placement of all the components were scattered on the front of the kiosk. This is something I have had issue in the past with kiosks in store, where payment keypads are placed in akward locations verus debit/credit slots. We finally completed the transaction process of the 1-ride ticket. Had I not been there, the woman would have have likely missed her train.

After that I headed down to the platfom to wait for my train. While waiting I decided to tweet at GO Transit and Metrolinx my ordeal.

To summarize, here’s a list of pain points I made in my head when watching and assisting this woman at the kiosk.

  • Assistance – No GO Transit staff was within distance of this kiosk. The only option for help would be for the customer to call a toll-free number for assistance.
  • Screen display – Could it be in color? Does the constrast need to be adjusted, or can the display be moved at eye level, and not huddled downward near the keypad.
  • Destination – Instead of typing in to search location, could you list your points on the route?
  • Fare Type – This is a contenous issue right now as PRESTO passes are all uniform in design. There’s no visual designation on the card displaying fare type. Only a fare inspector can tell. For a senior or child to purchase the fare, would be required to go to the main ticket counter of the station.
  • Payment Processing – Chip reader is far away from the keypad. As well as cash/coin slot.
  • Placement – Could the kiosk ressemble more like an ATM display? Could it display the steps on screen with coordinating lighting when a customer needs to intereact?

It’s interesting to note that various stations have different designed kiosks. I am not sure if this is a test rollout, but considering that you have a lot of commuters using GO Transit. Maybe a smalller sample size for user testing could provide more concise feedback.