|Location||Greater Toronto, Hamilton, and Ottawa|
|Currency||CAD ($10 minimum load, $1000 maximum load)|
|Stored-value||e-Purse, period pass|
The Presto card (stylized as PRESTO) is a contactless smart card fare payment system used on participating public transit systems in the province of Ontario, Canada, specifically in Greater Toronto, Hamilton, and Ottawa. Presto card readers were trialled from June 25, 2007 to September 30, 2008. Full implementation began in November 2009 and it 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.
One of the 10 strategies of The Big Move, the GTHA's regional transportation plan, was to create an integrated transit fare system amongst the 10 public transit agencies in the GTHA. The Presto system was designed to support the use of one common method of fare payment on various participating public transit systems, comparable with other systems such as London's Oyster card and Hong Kong's Octopus card.
The Ontario Ministry of Transportation (MTO), 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 technology.
Thales Group and Accenture were awarded the contract to supply this system in October 2009. Implementation is the responsibility of Metrolinx, of which Presto became an operating division in 2011. The Presto project was strongly criticized by the Auditor General of Ontario in 2012 for "roll-out glitches, cost escalations and untendered contract extensions.". The ongoing Presto rollout on the TTC's bus, subway and streetcar network have been marred with abnormally high failure rates of the readers themselves and cost overruns.
Presto cards are available at transit stations, over the phone and online. 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 several transit systems and has other features:
- 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 can 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 can incur a negative balance for one trip for a small fee.
The following transit service providers use Presto:
- Brampton Transit/Züm
- Burlington Transit
- Durham Region Transit
- GO Transit
- Hamilton Street Railway
- MiWay (Mississauga Transit)
- Oakville Transit
- OC Transpo (Ottawa)
- Toronto Transit Commission
- Union Pearson Express
- 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". Officials decided to test the fare system on Mississauga's neighbourhood shuttle service in Meadowvale and Cooksville that transports passengers to GO Transit. 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.
The Presto card has been introduced in stages beginning in fall 2009.
- Stage One
The first stage of the production rollout schedule was launched on November 30, 2009 and included a limited number of recruited customers to test the system. Stage One included Oakville, Bronte and Union GO Stations, TTC Union Subway Station, and ten Oakville Transit buses on three routes.
- Stage Two
The second stage of the production rollout schedule was 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 was 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 more stations (Kipling and Islington) were added in summer 2010. The third stage of the production rollout schedule was scheduled for fall of 2010 to bring more transit systems and stations into the Presto system.
- Stage Three
The third stage of the rollout schedule expanded the rollout to a larger scale, covering the entire 905 region and Hamilton. GO Transit 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 was the first to roll out in this stage on May 3, 2011. Brampton Transit became fully Presto-enabled on May 30, 2011. On the same date, MiWay made the farecard available to adult passengers only. Durham Region Transit launched Presto card for co-fares with GO Transit on June 27, 2011. Almost a month later, York Region Transit 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 added 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 facilitating transfers between the two.
Stage Four also marks the extensive rollout of the Presto fare system on the TTC, also using the Presto Next Generation system, while the participating transit systems that have already fully rolled out in the earlier stages were to 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.
Stage Four and Presto Next Generation have been criticized for numerous delays with launching OC Transpo service. Metrolinx set July 1, 2012 as the Presto launch date for Ottawa, but in June 2012, it was postponed to February 1, 2013. City staff decided to launch Presto in several stages for 2013, the last of which occurred on May 18, 2013.
The first major addition of Presto on the TTC took place in fall 2014, with the introduction of Presto card machines in several more Toronto subway stations, and the launch of new streetcars equipped with this system (see below).
In 2007, the Toronto Transit Commission (TTC) committed to implement the Presto system at 14 of its major subway stations. In 2008, the TTC 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.
On 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. The TTC was the last system to commit to Presto, and is the system with the most users. On November 30, 2014, the new low-floor Flexity Outlook streetcars became the first surface vehicles on the TTC to be equipped with this system. The older Canadian Light Rail Vehicle (CLRV) and Articulated Light Rail Vehicle (ALRV) streetcars would follow one year later on December 14, 2015, when those cars were retrofitted with Presto machines as well, and it is expected that all remaining surface vehicles (including buses) and subway stations will be equipped with this system by the end of 2016.
In April 2016, Main Street was the first station on the Toronto subway system to have the new paddle-door fare gates which replaced the turnstiles. All subway stations (at least one entrance per station) became fully Presto-compatible by December 22, 2016, and new swing-open paddle-door fare gates will eventually be installed at all subway stations (including all remaining entrances and the initial 26 subway stations retrofitted with Presto machines on the older turnstiles).
Since early 2016, the TTC has been rolling out Presto readers onto TTC buses from west to east. As of May 31, 2016, all Queensway division buses were equipped with Presto readers. This was followed by Wilson and Arrow Road division in August 2016 and Malvern and Mount Dennis division in October 2016. Birchmount and Eglinton division are the last two divisions to have the Presto readers rolled out which will be completed by December 23, 2016.
It has been frequently reported that Presto loading machines, fare gates, and the units for tapping cards are not functioning as initially expected. The prevalence of these outages has the TTC calling the situation "unacceptable", although Byford remained confident about the dependability of the fare system.
- Toronto Transit Commission: Expansions in the TTC will be Presto-equipped in the opening day, which includes all of the stations in the Spadina subway extension and the Eglinton Crosstown line. All new surface vehicles will be equipped with the system, while existing vehicles will be retrofitted.
- GO Transit: All future GO 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 underway for participation in Presto.
- Niagara Region Transit's operators are also interested in adopting the farecard.
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: local transit agencies used to have different age limits for child and senior fares and different types of students that may use student fares (some excluding post-secondary students while others do not). Registered Presto card holders are assessed the senior or child fares as appropriate. 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 Pass?||Loyalty Program?||Notes|
|Brampton Transit||$2.90||$1.55||$2.50||$2.50||$0.75||Yes||No||Fares are comparable to transit ticket levels.|
|Burlington Transit||$2.70||$1.85||$1.85||$1.85||$0.70||Yes||Yes1||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.
1 Except Child
|Durham Region Transit||$3.05||$2.00||$2.00||$2.70||$0.75||Yes||No||Fares are comparable to transit ticket levels.|
|GO Transit||$5.30||$2.70||$2.70||$5.30||N/A||No||Yes||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||$3.00||$1.80||$1.80||$1.80||$0.50||Yes||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. Passengers taking more than 11 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.|
|MiWay (Mississauga)||$2.90||$1.90||$1.65||$2.25||$0.80||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 Cards cannot be used on MiExpress 88 Wonderland nor on TTC's 52 Lawrence West buses in Mississauga.|
|Oakville Transit||$2.80||$1.80||$2.20||$2.20||$0.75||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 (Ottawa)||$3.35||$2.55||$1.70||$3.35||N/A||Yes||No||Youth passengers are offered a discounted monthly pass.|
|Toronto Transit Commission||$3.00||$2.05||free||$2.05||No||Planned||Planned||Fares are identical to ticket and token levels (see Toronto Transit Commission fares for details).|
|Union Pearson Express||$9.00||$5.64||free||$9.00||No||Planned||No||Presto use offers discounts compared to cash fares.|
|York Region Transit||$3.40||$2.10||$2.10||$2.60||$0.75||Yes||Planned||Fares are comparable to transit ticket levels. Fares shown are for travel within one fare zone. Presto Card is not accepted for Route 50B Beaverton—Pefferlaw and TTC operated routes in York Region.|
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 $0.55 discount on the HSR fare, while passengers transferring to GO Transit from HSR will receive a $1.60 discount on the GO Transit fare.
- MiWay (Mississauga) - 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 (Ottawa) - 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 - As of January 2017, the TTC has implemented the Presto card machines at all 69 subway stations, and on-board all TTC conventional buses. All TTC streetcars have been equipped with Presto card devices since December 2015. Please note that there are no free transfer privileges for Presto card holders when transferring from/to TTC, GO Transit, Union Pearson Express from/to other Presto-enabled Greater Toronto Area transit services meaning a full fare applies when transferring between these agencies.
- 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.
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 (except for the TTC).
Most transit agencies will not issue transfers on Presto card fares since its automatically written to the card when you first tap on to pay your fare. 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 52 Lawrence West 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 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.
- Toronto Transit Commission - In the event a TTC bus/streetcar gets short-turned and if passengers are transferring onto the next vehicle on the same route, they should not tap their card again as a second fare could be charged (since the TTC operates on a single trip-based transfer system with no stopovers permitted rather than the time-based transfer system used by other transit service providers) as such the TTC recommends that Presto users should obtain a paper short-turn transfer, the procedure is as follows:
- For passengers riding on TTC buses or legacy (older) CLRV and ALRV streetcars that's being short-turned, they should obtain a paper transfer from the driver.
- For those riding on the newer Flexity Outlook streetcars that gets short-turned, they should obtain a paper transfer by tapping their card again on the "PRESTO Transfer" sensor at the automated Fares and Transfers machine which are located by the middle doors.
Proof of Purchase
On Proof-of-payment (POP) services served by Presto cards, fare enforcement officers use hand-held Presto card readers which can verify if a passenger has paid the correct fare, a passenger must tap their card on the officer's handheld reader upon request.
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Use your PRESTO card at Milton GO Station starting tomorrow!
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TTC Kipling and Islington stations will be up and running on Monday, July 26
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Use your PRESTO card at Lisgar GO Station starting today
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Use your PRESTO card at Meadowvale GO Station starting tomorrow
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Streetsville GO Station is going online tomorrow
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Starting Monday, use your PRESTO card at Dixie GO Station!
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Kipling GO station is PRESTO-equipped today!
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Cooksville GO Station went live today
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Erindale GO went live today
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