The STM has discovered problems in the rollout of their new magnetic cards and have quietly pulled them out of service. The main problem, as anyone who has seen them in action can attest to, is the time it takes for the magnetic cards to be sucked into the machines, checked, stamped and ejected (though STM employees say there are other problems too).
This is especially problematic on buses, where it can take five seconds to go through the whole process. Multiply that by a dozen tourists (who are unfamiliar with the system) boarding, and you could be spending unnecessary minutes at a stop.
Aside from the time factor, the cards are also not intuitive. Having to take the card back is a dramatic enough departure from the current system that it serves to confuse people and slow the process down further. Plus there’s the issue of their disposal. Many find their way onto the floors of buses and metro stations since they’re only good for one or six uses.
So I guess it should be unsurprising when I went to get my bus pass this month that the young lady in front of me refused to get the new smart card with her monthly pass (the smart card, which is contact-less, is not affected by these problems) saying that not all the buses are properly equipped to handle them.
My refusal to get the smart card and instead opt for the magnetic monthly pass was for the simple reason that it cost less. The smart card required a $3.50 one-time fee in addition to the cost of the pass. When the STM starts incorporating the cost of the card into the cost of the pass, then I’ll consider buying it.