You can fool Presto gates by swiping your umbrella, but don't try it, TTC warns

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TTC changes 'use of force' guidelines for transit enforcement staff

TTC changes 'use of force' guidelines for transit enforcement staff

The Toronto Transit Commission is warning anyone thinking of skipping out on paying their subway fare after a YouTube post showed it's possible to trick the new TTC Presto gates with a wave of your umbrella.

The video uploaded on Tuesday shows a man effortlessly opening a gate by waving an umbrella through the partitions.

"The new Presto gates have been disasters from the start. Here's another fail to add to the list," the man, who also uploaded the video, wrote in the description.

In an email to CBC Toronto, the man said he decided to upload it because "the TTC needs to act on its flaws."

"Sending an email to the TTC is like sending an email into the black hole," he said.

"Until you expose a flaw to the masses with the use of social media, they won't act on it."

CBC Toronto has agreed to withhold the man's identity, because he doesn't want to face a fine. 

'Truly effortless'

The man said he always questioned why the TTC had such large gaps between the partitions on its gates, which make it easy to trip the motion sensor.

"You'll notice in the video, I didn't even need to even go up to/touch the partition/reach over the partition to open the gate," he said.

"Nothing is foolproof, but this was truly effortless."

Customers' responsibility to pay fare, TTC says

Brad Ross, communications director for the TTC, said the gates are "fairly standard around the world." Commuters who pass through the system "break" a beam of infared light, which triggers the gates to open, he said.

Ross said it's not the TTC's responsibility to make it harder for customers to skip fares — it's up to riders to be honest.

"You wouldn't go to Tim Hortons and order a cup of coffee and pick it up off the counter, walk out without paying," he said.

"Why would you do that at the TTC?"

Fare evaders cost the system about $20 million a year in lost revenue, according to the TTC board.

Risking $425 fine 

While it might be easy to cheat the system, do so at your own peril.

Ross said sooner or later, fare inspectors will catch you — and you could get slapped with a fine of between $235 and $425.

"It's fare evasion. It's theft," Ross told CBC Toronto.

"You may not be caught tomorrow, or next week, or even the week after that. But you will be caught."

TTC 'needs to wake up'

However, the man in the video says that's a "lazy response."

"The TTC needs to wake up to the reality that people steal if given the opportunity. It's human nature," he said in the email. 

"And the TTC, as a public corporation, should do everything in its power to protect its revenue stream in the same way a corporation does everything in its power to stop shoplifters."

The man added that he did not defraud the TTC in that video.

"I took my friend into the subway station, demonstrated it for him and we then left and walked to his house nearby," he said.