|Location||Greater Toronto Area; Ottawa; Hamilton, Ontario|
|Currency||CAD ( $10 minimum load , $1000 maximum load )|
Durham Region Transit
Hamilton Street Railway
MiWay (Mississauga Transit)
Toronto Transit Commission (currently 14 subway stations only)
York Region Transit
|Participating transit agencies|
The Presto Card (stylized as PRESTO Card and formerly known as the GTA Farecard) is a contactless smart card fare payment system for public transit systems in Southern Ontario, including those in the metropolitan region of the Greater Toronto Area, the National Capital Region and the city of Hamilton. The system was trialled from June 25, 2007 to September 30, 2008. Full implementation began in November 2009 and will be rolled out across the province in stages. Presto is an operating division of Metrolinx, the Ontario government agency that manages and integrates road transport and public transportation in the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area.
- 1 Background
- 2 Rollout
- 3 How to use
- 4 Fares
- 5 See also
- 6 References
- 7 External links
The Ontario Ministry of Transportation (MTO), together with GO Transit, Ottawa’s OC Transpo, and eight municipal transit partners within the GTHA undertook the design and development of a seamless regional transit farecard system (Presto) based on contactless (“Smartcard”) technology. Implementation is now the responsibility of Metrolinx, of which Presto became an operating division in 2011.
The Presto system is designed to support the use of one common farecard for fare payment on the various participating public transit systems. Presto will allow customers to ride on any participating transit system without pre-purchasing tickets or passes and without needing to know the fare policies of each system in advance. The Presto card, which is the size of a gift or debit card, will use “stored-value” in the form of a common electronic purse (e-Purse) as the medium for all fare payment transactions in addition to cash. Electronic readers will scan the customer’s Presto card (which contains a passive RFID chip within the card) as they board their public transit vehicle or enter a station calculating the correct fare and deducting it from their card balance - all within one-third of a second. Unlike paper tickets or passes, the card is made of durable plastic for extended use. The system will also allow customers the choice of loading their Presto card with cash value via preauthorized (autoload) payments, by telephone, Internet and at selected retails outlets. Customers with “registered” cards will be able to replace the value on a lost or stolen card, unlike tickets, tokens, passes or cash.
The Presto system will provide transit participants with centralized farecard procurement, initialization and distribution, reporting services, revenue clearing and settlement, customer call centre and Internet services, maintenance and support and Third Party Sales Agency Management.
The Presto system will provide the following customer and transit system benefits:
- A common means for all fare payments;
- Faster system boarding to improve transit efficiencies;
- Support seamless transit service in the GTHA and across Ontario;
- Provide a simple and convenient payment option that reduce monthly line-ups;
- Enhanced security for the protection of value on lost or stolen cards;
- Improved convenience translated to increased transit use addressing congestion and environmental concerns;
- Provide a standardized technology platform; and
- Potential extension of Presto concept to other services, such as parking, and municipal services, joint ventures.
Participating service providers
The following transit service providers use or are scheduled to use Presto:
- Brampton Transit
- Burlington Transit
- Durham Region Transit
- GO Transit
- Hamilton Street Railway
- MiWay (Mississauga Transit)
- Oakville Transit
- OC Transpo
- Toronto Transit Commission (currently 14 subway stations only)
- York Region Transit/Viva
In July 2007, 500 commuters who normally commuted from Meadowvale and Cooksville GO stations in Mississauga to Union Station in downtown Toronto received a free card and tried the system under a trial termed "Launch 1". Mississauga has a neighbourhood shuttle service in Meadowvale and Cooksville to transport passengers to GO Transit. Consequently, officials thought it would be the perfect environment to test the fare system. During the Launch 1 trial, the Presto card could be used at:
- Mississauga Transit (shuttle routes of 60 Meadowvale Shuttle-Crosscurrent, 62 Cooksville Shuttle-Webb, 63 Cooksville Shuttle-Kaneff, 64 Meadowvale Shuttle-Montevideo only)
- GO Transit (Meadowvale and Cooksville GO stations only)
- Toronto Transit Commission (Union subway station only)
The Launch 1 trial concluded September 30, 2008.
Starting in fall 2009 the Presto card is being introduced in stages.
The first stage of the production rollout schedule launched on November 30, 2009 and includes a limited number of recruited customers to test the system. Stage 1 includes Oakville, Bronte and Union GO Stations, TTC Union Subway Station, and ten Oakville Transit buses on three routes.
The second stage of the production rollout schedule launched on May 10, 2010. In this stage, the PRESTO System became available to the general public and transit users were able to purchase PRESTO cards and use them at participating stations and transit systems. Stage two launched similarly to stage one, but with full participation from Oakville Transit and Burlington Transit. GO Transit continued its system-wide rollout, with the Lakeshore East, Milton and Georgetown lines coming online at a rate of a few stations a week. The Toronto Transit Commission added six downtown stations (St. George, Queen’s Park, St. Patrick, Dundas, College, Bloor/Yonge) to the Presto System. Two additional stations (Kipling and Islington) were added in summer 2010. The third stage of the production rollout schedule is scheduled for fall of 2010 and will bring more transit systems and stations into the PRESTO System.
The third stage of the rollout schedule expands the rollout to a larger scale, covering the entire 905 region and Hamilton. GO Transit has completed its rollout for trains and buses in summer 2012. Since then, three additional GO Train stations have been added to the system, all of which are Presto-active: the Allandale Waterfront, Kitchener and Guelph Central GO Stations.
In the end of this stage, all but two local transit systems will have completed their rollout. Hamilton Street Railway is the first to roll out in this stage, having launched at May 3, 2011. Brampton Transit became fully Presto-enabled as of May 30, 2011. On the same date, MiWay also made the farecard available to adult passengers only. Durham Region Transit launched Presto card for co-fares with GO Transit as of June 27, 2011. Almost a month later, York Region Transit has launched the Presto card in all of its Vivastations and buses. The TTC has added Presto card as fare payment option in Don Mills, Downsview, Finch, Yorkdale and York Mills subway stations. In this stage, concession fares were added for GO Transit, Oakville Transit, Burlington Transit, Brampton Transit, York Region Transit and MiWay; and co-fares for GO buses have been offered by MiWay and Brampton Transit exclusively for Presto cardholders. Also in this stage, only Durham Region Transit remains to roll out its regular fares.
Presto's self-service kiosks have debuted at Union Station for a pilot project. So far, reception of the kiosk has been favourable.
Stage Four and Presto Next Generation
The fourth stage of the rollout will add only one transit system, Ottawa's OC Transpo, commencing as a soft launch in spring 2012 and as a full rollout on May 18, 2013. It is the only agency to receive the Presto card so far outside the Greater Toronto and Hamilton area. This stage involves the initial rollout of Presto Next Generation (PNG). OC Transpo's Presto readers are compatible with the Société de transport de l'Outaouais's new Multi farecards and Presto cards are compatible with pass readers on STO buses, thus smoothing transfers between the two.
The participating transit systems that have fully rolled out in the earlier stages will receive Presto Next Generation cards in late fall 2012. Payment by other means, such as open payment and mobile payment systems, will also be made compatible with this updated version of Presto card. The TTC will also receive Presto Next Generation in its future rollout to the rest of the system.
Stage four and Presto Next Generation have been criticized for numerous delays with launching OC Transpo service. Metrolinx initially set July 1, 2012 as the Presto launch date for Ottawa, but in June 2012, they postponed it to February 1, 2013. City staff decided to launch Presto in multiple stages for 2013, the last which occurred on May 18, 2013.
In 2007, the Toronto Transit Commission (TTC) committed to implement the Presto system at 14 of its major subway stations. As a large number of commuters in the GTA use the TTC, the full implementation of Presto within the TTC would greatly benefit the usability of the farecard. The TTC has approved the use of a smartcard system and is working with Presto in addressing the TTC’s business requirements for “full” system participation. An initial funding allocation of $140 million has been earmarked by the provincial and federal governments and the City of Toronto; however, the TTC has estimated in its 2009-2013 budget that the project would take $365 million to complete. At a provincial funding announcement in March 2011, it was announced that Presto would become the TTC's fare card of choice, though details of financing were still to be worked out. The Presto card is expected to be fully rolled out in the entire system before the 2015 Pan-American Games commences. Since the TTC will receive Presto Next Generation (PNG) cards, by then, it will already have handled open payment and mobile payment methods, a requirement that the previous version of the card reader system had not satisfied, which had led to its rejection by the previous TTC commission.
On Wednesday November 28, 2012, TTC CEO Andy Byford and Chair Karen Stintz and Metrolinx signed the master agreement committing the TTC to the Presto fare payment system. The agreement falls under another master agreement that for the next ten years the new four LRT lines would be built by Metrolinx and operated by the TTC. Though the TTC was the last system to commit to Presto, it is the system with the most users. The LRV will be the first surface vehicle equipped in 2014. All stations will be equipped by 2015, and all remaining surface vehicles will have the system installed by 2016 at which time, tokens and monthly passes will be phased out.
- Toronto Transit Commission: Expansions in the TTC will be Presto-equipped in the opening day, which includes its new fleet of streetcars and all of the stations in the Eglinton–Scarborough Crosstown line.
- Union Pearson Express: The new airport rail link between Union Station in downtown Toronto and Toronto Pearson International Airport in the City of Mississauga will use the farecard system.
- GO Transit: All future GO Train stations will be Presto-equipped as early as the station opening.
- Other transit systems: Requirements are being developed in order to incorporate additional transit agencies into Presto card. Many transit systems in the Greater Golden Horseshoe have expressed interest in adopting the Presto card as a fare payment system:
- Milton Transit, the only transit system in the Greater Toronto Area that has not participated during the first phase, is working with Metrolinx to adopt the farecard.
- Guelph Transit is exploring its options in adopting the Presto card as a fare payment system.
- Grand River Transit expressed interest in participating with the rollout of the Presto card but now has decided to go to another system.
- Negotiations with Barrie Transit are ongoing with regards to the adoption of Presto card.
- Niagara Falls Transit's new fareboxes are designed to be capable of handling Presto cards, and are now participating for those transferring from a GO Bus or Train.
- Discussions in St. Catharines Transit are already underway for participation in Presto.
- Niagara Region Transit's operators are also interested in adopting the farecard, despite just being a brand-new system.
How to use
The cards will be available at transit depots, over the phone and online. A minimum money value must be loaded into the card at any time the card is loaded (including at the time of receiving the card). Beginning in Stage 3, cardholders will also be able to load passes (for up to three transit systems at a time) on to their Presto card. When boarding, riders tap the prepaid card, embedded with an RFID chip, on to a reader. The reader will then check for either a valid transit pass, or automatically deduct the lowest available fare from the card. Loyalty programs are also available on some transit systems, where frequent use of the system results in greater discounts on fare payment.
The Presto card works on multiple transit systems and has other features:
- Concession fares: While the Presto card is automatically set for adult fares, starting in Stage 3 registered cardholders will have the option to set their cards to automatically deduct either student, senior or child fares.
- Autoload: The Autoload feature allows cardholders to have a predetermined value automatically loaded onto their Presto card, when the e-Purse value reaches a specified threshold.
- Lost card replacement: If a registered cardholder loses their Presto card, they have the ability to have their lost card blocked within 24 hours of and the remaining balance transferred to a replacement card.
- Underpayment allowance: If a registered card has insufficient funds to pay a fare, but the balance is greater than $0 and has sufficient funds to cover the minimum base fare, the cardholder has the ability to go into underpayment and incur a negative balance for one trip for a small fee.
Participating transit systems have different fares and fare policies when using the Presto Card compared to traditional fare media; generally, passengers receive a discount using Presto compared to cash fares. The implementation of the Presto Card has also unified the fare categories of GO Transit and local transit agencies, with local transit agencies adopting the GO Transit standard: previously, local transit agencies differed on the age limits for child and senior fares as well the types of students that may use student fares (some excluding post-secondary students while others do not). Registered Presto Card holders will be assessed the senior or child fares as appropriate; unregistered cards will always have adult fares assessed. Student fare classification must be activated by the card-issuing transit authority through its normal procedures, which differ between transit systems. For example, post-secondary student fares are classified as students in only GO Transit and MiWay, while the rest classify them under the adult category.
|Agency||Adult||Senior||Child||Student||GO co-fare?||Period Passes?||Loyalty Program?||Notes|
|Brampton Transit||$2.80||$1.55||$2.50||$2.50||Yes||Yes||No||Fares are comparable to transit ticket levels.|
|Burlington Transit||$2.50||$1.70||$1.40||$1.70||Yes||No||All except Child||Fares are comparable to transit ticket levels. Passengers taking more than a specified number of non co-fare trips in a calendar month (32 for seniors, 36 for adults, and 38 for students) may ride the system for free for the remainder of the month.|
|Durham Region Transit||$2.78||$1.90||$1.90||$2.58||Yes||Yes||No||Fares are comparable to transit ticket levels.|
|GO Transit||$5.20||$2.60||$2.60||$5.20||N/A||No||Adult and Student only||Minimum fare required to begin travel. GO Transit fares depend on originating and destination fare zones and must be tapped on when starting travel and tapped off upon completion of travel on a GO bus. Fare adjustments will be reconciled upon tapping off.|
|Hamilton Street Railway||$2.00||$1.65||$1.65||$1.65||See notes||Most||Yes||Fares are comparable to transit ticket levels. All HSR passes, except day passes, HSR Golden Age Bus Pass, and Summer Youth Pass, may be stored as period passes on Presto.|
|MiWay||$2.70||$1.80||$1.65||$2.25||Yes||No||Yes||Fares are comparable to transit ticket levels. Passengers taking more than 12 non-co-fare trips in a calendar week (starting in Monday and ending the following Sunday) may ride the system for free for the remainder of the week. Presto Card is not accepted for MiExpress 88 Wonderland.|
|Oakville Transit||$2.65||$1.75||$2.15||$2.15||Yes||No||Yes||Passengers taking more than a specified number of non-co-fare trips in a calendar month (28 for child/student, 29 for seniors, and 35 for adults) may ride the system for free for the remainder of the month.|
|OC Transpo||$2.72||$2.05||$1.50||$2.72||N/A||Yes||No||An additional $1.40 (adults and students) or $2 (seniors) is charged for Express trip, but children do not pay a premium.|
|Toronto Transit Commission||$2.70||-||-||-||No||No||No||Fares are identical to token levels (see Toronto Transit Commission for details). Concession fares are not offered on the Presto Card; adult fare will be deducted.|
|York Region Transit||$3.30||$2.00||$2.00||$2.50||Yes||Yes||Planned||Fares are comparable to transit ticket levels. Fares shown are for travel within one fare zone.|
Other Presto Card fare notes:
- Durham Region Transit - DRT/GO Bus integration is not supported with the Presto Card. Passengers taking a GO Transit route where DRT fare media is accepted will be charged GO Transit fares.
- GO Transit - Fares for adult and student passengers between two fare zones are reduced to levels comparable to that of 10-ride tickets formerly offered by GO Transit. The loyalty discount system is in place where passengers frequently travelling between two fare zones will receive further discounts after 30 (student) or 35 trips (adult) in a single month, so the fare paid per month never exceeds that of the corresponding GO Transit monthly pass. Fares for child and senior passengers do not receive a further discount beyond the same 50% of adult (ticket) prices offered via traditional fare media. See GO Transit fares for more information.
- Passengers connecting to local transit from GO Transit will only be assessed the co-fare, if applicable, on the Presto Card if the GO Transit trip was also assessed to the Presto Card; the full local fare will be assessed otherwise. Passengers connecting to GO transit from local transit will have their co-fare discounts assessed when disembarking from their GO Transit trips.
- Hamilton Street Railway - GO Transit co-fares are done differently for Presto Card holders compared to holders of traditional fare media. Passengers transferring to HSR from GO Transit will receive a $0.50 discount on the HSR fare, while passengers transferring to GO Transit from HSR will receive a $1.50 discount on the GO Transit fare.
- MiWay - Although MiWay supports period passes on the Presto Card, it is expected that period passes will be phased out in favour of expanding the present loyalty program.
- OC Transpo - Presto Cards registered to addresses in Quebec may not use the Presto Card when boarding OC Transpo buses, as per existing residency policies between OC Transpo and STO; STO fare media (including the STO Passe-Partout PLUS Card) must be used instead.
- The "free fares for Seniors category on Wednesdays" is not enforced by Presto systems; a full fare will be assessed. Seniors riding OC Transpo buses on Wednesdays are encouraged to avoid tapping their Presto Cards therein, unless intending to transfer to STO buses.
- Toronto Transit Commission - The TTC has only implemented the Presto Card at 14 subway stations, including all stations with connections to neighbouring transit systems. However, at these stations, passengers may obtain a TTC transfer for connecting travel. Full TTC integration (including transitioning from the existing trip-based transfers to the time-based transfers used by other local transit agencies) is expected by 2015. The TTC has not implemented the Presto Card on its buses or streetcars, including buses operating on behalf of MiWay and York Region Transit; however, passengers may use the Presto Card to connect to a TTC bus route at stations with fare-paid transfer zones, as per TTC's transfer policy.
- As TTC uses trip-based rather than time-based fares, there are no free transfers between the TTC and any connecting service; passengers connecting to a neighbouring service will be assessed a full fare, even within the nominal transfer window.
- Though TTC fare media is valid for YRT's Viva Orange service for travel to York University, YRT fares will be assessed if passengers embark at York University, Murray Ross, Dufferin-Finch Vivastations, or outside Downsview Station's fare-paid area; passengers are assessed the TTC fare when boarding Viva Orange from Downsview Station's fare-paid area.
- As TTC buses do not accept the Presto Card, passengers may not board at Downsview Station or Don Mills Station and pay for both the TTC and YRT fares (using the Presto reader at the Vivastation vending machine for the latter) and board a TTC bus bound for York Region. A separate (non-Presto) YRT fare is required when exiting the bus in York Region, as per existing TTC fare policies.
- York Region Transit - Zone fares may be deducted on request for passengers travelling across fare zone boundaries, or from the ticket vending machines at Vivastations. YRT Express fare supplements will also be automatically deducted.
- Zone fares and YRT Express fares cannot be assessed on their own; passengers using the GTA Weekly Pass thus cannot use the Presto Card for these fare upgrades.
- Passengers making a two-zone trip on a one-zone fare (or a three-zone trip on a smaller fare) will be assessed a second full fare when making a connection past the fare zone boundary instead of a free transfer or a zone upgrade fare. Accidental crossings of the zone boundaries cannot be reconciled when disembarking: the full fare must be paid when boarding the first YRT bus.
- YRT fares are assessed when boarding Züm buses in York Region due to fare integration with Viva Orange, even though both YRT and Brampton Transit fare media are accepted for Züm buses in York Region. Passengers holding a Brampton Transit period pass will not be assessed a fare when boarding a Züm bus in York Region, but will be assessed a fare for boarding Viva Orange. As Viva Orange is on a proof-of-payment system while Züm buses are pay-as-you-board, it does not matter whether fares are deducted at the Vivastation vending machine or on board a Züm bus, except in the case of Brampton Transit period pass holders, as previously mentioned.
Local transit systems within the Presto Card's service area have always honoured transfers from neighbouring transit systems, and transferring between neighbouring transit systems continues to be honoured with the Presto Card where they were honoured with traditional fare media.
Most transit agencies will not issue transfers on Presto Card fares. However, paper transfers may still be issued in the following cases:
- "Companion fares" - using stored value on the Presto Card e-Purse to pay fares for two or more passengers; paper transfers will be issued for all passengers other than the cardholder.
- Transferring from a MiWay bus to TTC route 58 Malton in Mississauga, which operates on behalf of MiWay while in Mississauga.
- Transferring from a York Region Transit bus to a TTC route in York Region, which operates on behalf of York Region Transit while in York Region.
- Depending on the transit operators involved, transferring from a local transit agency where the passenger has a local period pass to a neighbouring transit agency where the passenger does not (such as from Hamilton Street Railway to Burlington Transit while the Presto Card has a period pass for HSR); a full fare for the second transit agency will otherwise be assessed to the Presto Card.
- Transferring from an OC Transpo to an OC Transpo or STO route that requires a fare supplement. The fare supplement may be paid using a cash fare instead of stored value on the Presto Card e-Purse; in which case a paper pass will be issued.
As the Presto Card is meant to replace paper transfers, local transit operators have generally adopted the Presto card's transfer policies in their paper transfers (in the sense that, with the exception of the TTC, all local operators accept each other's transfers, and will not reissue transfers originally issued by other local operators), except for a generally longer transfer window provided by the Presto Card.
Use with non-Presto agencies
- Barrie Transit - GO Transit users allowed to transfer to Barrie Transit buses for free by presenting their Presto Cards at applicable connection points.
- Guelph Transit - GO Transit co-fares are offered for those who show Presto Card or other GO media.
- Grand River Transit - GO Transit co-fares are now offered for Presto Card users at Kitchener GO Station.
- Milton Transit - GO Transit co-fares are offered for Presto Card users.
- Société de transport de l'Outaouais (STO) - The Société de transport de l'Outaouais is not a participating Presto Card agency, though the Presto Card is accepted on its system via the STO Passe-Partout PLUS Card readers on their buses. Passengers may use the Presto Card to transfer to STO from OC Transpo; passengers with an OC Transpo monthly pass loaded on the Presto Card may also board STO buses without having previously transferred from OC Transpo.
- Presto Cards are not accepted on STO trips departing from Gatineau before 9AM. Passengers are required to obtain the STO-OC Transpo Rider Smart Card, issued by STO to Ontario residents living within OC Transpo's service area, for such trips. Passengers residing outside OC Transpo's service area must pay STO fares.
- STO Passe-Partout PLUS Card readers are unable to deduct cash fares from Presto Card holders. As such, the Presto Cards may not be used to board an STO bus directly, nor provide companion fares. Passengers transferring to an STO Express or STO Interzone route must pay any fare supplements in cash.
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