|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 implemented on a trial basis from June 25, 2007, to September 30, 2008. Full implementation began in November 2009 and it was rolled out across rapid transit stations, railway stations, bus stops and terminals, and transit vehicles on eleven different transit systems. 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 Presto rollout on the TTC's surface transit fleet have been marred with abnormally high failure rates of the readers themselves and cost overruns. A TTC position paper noted that faulty Presto card readers used by fare inspectors on the proof-of-payment streetcar system is making it "difficult to get customers to comply with inspections" and costing the TTC in lost fare revenue.
A June 3, 2017, story in the Toronto Star first reported that customers' Presto travel histories were provided to police authorities 12 times in the previous year, with a warrant having been required for only two of those disclosures and customers typically not having been notified that their records had been shared. The figures were confirmed by Metrolinx in later reports, stating that they had granted 12 of 26 requests received from various police agencies. In response to calls for reforming the data sharing system from experts and transit riding advocates, Metrolinx launched a formal review of its privacy policies.
The rollout of the fare system and accompanying replacement faregates on the TTC's subway network was met with poor reliability and issues with processing transactions. Presto was forced to use its existing software back-end for other municipal transit partners that have completed the roll-out, as the TTC has yet to develop its own dedicated infrastructure to handle the larger volume of transactions it typically handles. The new faregates suffered from persistent mechanical and software problems, prompting the TTC to suspend the rollout for a month to work with the contractor, Scheidt & Bachmann, to resolve reliability issues. As a result, over 2,000 motors on more than 1,000 gates had to be replaced in addition to numerous hardware and software updates. The June 2018 deadline for the complete roll-out of Presto for the TTC will be further pushed to 2019 due to these ongoing issues, prompting a delay in the phasing out of cash fares, tokens and other legacy fare media. As a result, the TTC will face higher fare collection costs as it incurs "transitional costs" of operating parts of Presto and the legacy fare regimes concurrently over the next few years. A situation TTC board member John Campbell describes as "totally inefficient".
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. It will charge the cardholder's credit or debit card.
- 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 fee of $0.25.
The following transit service providers use Presto:
- Brampton Transit/Züm
- Burlington Transit
- Durham Region Transit
- GO Transit
- Hamilton Street Railway
- MiWay (Mississauga)
- 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.
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.
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.
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, all new GO Train stations and buses have had Presto readers on the first day of service.
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 debuted at Union Station for a pilot project during this period. Reception of the pilot kiosks was found to be favourable. The pilot kiosks have since been removed and a widespread rollout of automated reload systems is ongoing throughout GO, TTC, and Union Pearson Express stations.
Stage 4 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 all remaining surface vehicles (including buses) and at least one entrance of all subway stations were equipped with this system by December 23, 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.
From May to December 2016, Presto readers were installed in 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 divisions in August 2016 and Malvern and Mount Dennis divisions in October 2016. Birchmount and Eglinton divisions were the last two divisions to have the Presto readers rolled out, with installations completed by December 23, 2016.
The TTC is now in the process of installing new Presto-compatible glass-paddle fare gates at all of its remaining subway station entrances that still have legacy turnstiles (most of which were retrofitted with Presto card readers between 2010 and 2015) and the floor-to-ceiling revolving turnstiles used at automatic entrances (which do not accept Presto).
By September 2016, it had been frequently reported that Presto loading machines, fare gates, and the units for tapping cards were not functioning as initially expected. The prevalence of these outages had the TTC calling the situation "unacceptable", although Byford noted the situation was improving. Across 2016 and 2017, faulty Presto devices resulted in 1.4 million free rides on the TTC, each ride representing forgone revenue for the Commission. The TTC estimates that since January 2016 to February 2018, it has lost $4.2 million in fare revenue as a result of problems with Presto readers, which Metrolinx is obligated to pay as per the master agreement committing the TTC to the Presto fare payment system signed in 2012.
- 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.
- 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/Youth||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||$3.15||$2.10||$2.10||$2.80||$0.80||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||$2.30||$1.90||$1.90||$1.90||$0.60||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||Yes||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 the TTC's 52 Lawrence West buses in Mississauga.|
|Oakville Transit||$2.80||$1.80||$2.20||$2.20||$0.75||Yes||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)||$3.45||$2.60||$1.75||$3.45||N/A||Yes||No||Youth passengers are offered a discounted monthly pass.|
|Toronto Transit Commission||$3.00||$2.05||free||$2.05||$1.50||Yes||Planned||Fares are identical to ticket and token levels. Since June 2018, adult and senior digital monthly TTC Metropasses along with the new adult 12-month pass are also available to upload on the Presto card, with costs identical to the regular TTC monthly Metropass costs or to that of the Metropass Discount Plan (see Toronto Transit Commission fares for details).|
|Union Pearson Express||$9.00||$5.64||free||$9.00||No||No||No||Presto use offers discounts compared to cash fares.|
|York Region Transit||$3.75||$2.35||$2.35||$3.00||$1.00||Yes||Planned||Fares are comparable to transit ticket levels. Fares shown are for travel within one fare zone. Presto Cards are not accepted for 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 2018, the TTC has implemented the Presto card machines at all 75 subway stations, and on-board all TTC conventional buses and streetcars. At this time, there are no free transfer privileges for Presto card holders when transferring to and/or from other neighbouring Presto-enabled Greater Toronto Area transit services meaning a full fare applies when transferring between these agencies. However Presto card users transferring between TTC and GO Transit or Union Pearson Express get a $1.50 co-fare discount (or $0.55 for seniors/students).
- York Region Transit: YRT Express fare supplements are automatically deducted.
- YRT Express fares cannot be assessed on their own; passengers using the GTA Weekly Pass thus cannot use the Presto card for this fare upgrade.
- 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.
- Currently customers using TTC in York Region are advised NOT to use Presto, and to continue using cash, paper tickets, passes or the new YRT/Viva pay app, this is because the TTC has not yet integrated the YRT co-fare arrangement(s) on TTC buses operated on behalf of YRT while operating within York Region. Also bear in mind that YRT does NOT issue paper transfers to customers who pay by Presto, which means these customers will be required to pay again when transferring between YRT and TTC routes, even the ones operating within York Region.
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 TTC, GO Transit, Union Pearson Express and OC Transpo).
On most transit agencies, paper transfers are not required for Presto card users since the card itself acts as proof-of-payment (POP) which can also be used to transfer from vehicle to vehicle or vehicle to station (vice versa) and/or to show enforcement officers on designated POP routes on which they carry hand-held devices to verify that payment was made (tapped on upon entry to the station or vehicle) except 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.
- 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.
- "TTC Times Two with GO Transit and/or Union Pearson Express" - Currently, passengers who use Presto will need a paper transfer if they wish to transfer from the TTC to GO Transit/Union Pearson Express and back on the TTC for their second ride to prevent a second fare from being deducted from their Presto card(s) when boarding the next TTC vehicle to complete their one-way trip as this functionality is not yet supported by Presto. The procedure is as follows:
- When boarding a TTC bus or legacy (older) CLRV/ALRV streetcar, passengers should board at the front, tap their card on the green fare readers and request a paper transfer from the driver/operator.
- On the TTC's newer Flexity Outlook streetcars, passengers should tap their card on the green fare readers by the doors to pay their fare, and again at the grey "Fares and Transfers" machine at the second and third doors to receive a paper transfer.
- When entering a subway station, passengers should tap their card at the fare gates using the main entrance and take a paper transfer from the red transfer box after entering the paid area.
As the Presto card is meant to replace paper transfers along with cash, tickets, tokens and paper passes, 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, GO Transit, Union Pearson Express and OC Transpo, all local transit operators accept each other's transfers, and will not reissue transfers originally issued by other local transit 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.
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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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