The TTC will be giving away free PRESTO cards this summer and fall to encourage riders to use contactless fare payments, according to a new report published by the transit agency.
Outlined in their 77-page Restart and Recovery Plan, the TTC plans to distribute the cards at no charge in areas of Toronto where PRESTO usage is low. No specific locations were provided, as a distribution plan is currently in development and more details will be released at a later date.
Originally adopted by the TTC in 2016, PRESTO is a multi-agency fare system developed by Metrolinx and accepted on several regional transit agencies throughout Ontario including GO Transit, MiWay, OC Transpo, York Region Transit and more. For reference, new PRESTO cards are regularly $6.00 each and can be loaded with funds or passes for payment.
The TTC will also be implementing several policies starting July 2, including mandatory masks or face coverings for riders and resuming fare inspections on vehicles. In addition, buses will allow front-door boarding and accept physical fare payments (cash, tickets and tokens) after the agency suspended both practices in March as a precautionary measure.
Public transit across Canada has been one of the industries impacted the most by COVID-19 -- in Toronto, the TTC has experienced an 86% drop in ridership compared to pre-pandemic figures and is losing an estimated $21 million per week in fare revenue.