Published on February 15, 2017 | by Shandi Pace     Photography by Shandi Pace


PRESTO: A Look Towards the Future

It looks like PRESTO will be the future for transportation in the Greater Toronto Area. The agency Metrolinx is phasing out other forms of payment – including the Metropass – and by the end of 2018 PRESTO is to be the main source of payment for the Toronto Transit Commission.

“As the PRESTO rollout continues across the TTC customers can still buy and use TTC passes, tokens and tickets. Later this year, we will be introducing TTC pass products, such as monthly or weekly passes, on PRESTO,” said Heather Brown, senior communications specialist at the TTC.

Many are wondering why the switch from Metropass to PRESTO? With the Metropass a flat rate is paid each month for unlimited rides across the TTC.

PRESTO, on the other hand, is an electronic fare payment system that eliminates tickets, tokens and cash. It’s designed to be reloadable online using a debit or credit card, which is why a lot Torontonians find it undesirable.

“I use PRESTO quite a lot so it wouldn’t affect me directly, but I know how easy it can be to lose track of your PRESTO balance. This could be somewhat of an inconvenience for people always in a hurry using transit and constantly needing to load money onto their cards,” said Alejandra Urday, a PRESTO user for over 4 years.

Spokespeople for Metrolinx said full implementation for PRESTO began in 2009 and will become the only payment method for the 2.8 million TTC users.

“Implementing PRESTO is one of the biggest transformations of its kind anywhere in the world and one of the few transit fare card systems serving 11 different transit systems,” said Vanessa Barrasa, senior advisor for Metrolinx.

Barrasa added in total there are around five million taps per week across the entire system, with 960,000 taps each week on approximately 4,000 PRESTO card readers.

PRESTO has had its fair share of problems in the past with cards not working, turnstiles being down and the fact that every city in the GTA didn’t adopt the PRESTO system at the same time, “so there wasn’t much consistency,” said Urday.

Eventually customers have the chance to buy a PRESTO card everywhere, load it with money or purchase a limited use paper PRESTO card and the phase out of other payment methods will begin.

“The priority for 2017 is to complete the installation of our new fare gates with PRESTO at the remaining subway station entrances that do not yet have them,” said Brown, and users will see new vending machines late in the year.

According to Metrolinx and PRESTO, by switching over to a city-wide electronic fare system, the TTC will be joining the likes of the New York City Transit Authority and the San Francisco Municipal Transit Agency, which operate on similar systems.

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About the Author

is a journalism student who enjoys hockey and music. Shandi wants to pursue a career in Sports Broadcasting and hopes to one day work for an NHL team.

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