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TTC to Give Away Free PRESTO Cards in Toronto

TTC to Give Away Free PRESTO Cards in Toronto

By Simon Hung

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.

In the past, the TTC has given away free PRESTO cards periodically at local events and other notable promotions like in 2018 in partnership with Scotiabank.

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.

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Source: TTC, with reports from the Toronto Star

12 Comments

    • They should just make the Presto cards free this fall (1 per person with ID registration to prevent hoarding) until a vaccine is available to everybody. When the 2nd wave of Covid hits this winter there will be another big dip in ridership, desperate times call for desperate measures.
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    • Let the long line ups begin.
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    • Although the presto cards may come free I'm assuming they're being issued with a zero dollar balance? It would be nice if they could include a small amount on it for one free trip or something ;)
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    • Never understood why you had to pay for the stupid card to begin with. It's like if you were to go buy a gift card somewhere, first having to buy the card for $5 and then putting in whatever value you wanted to buy :rolleyes:

      Selling the cards is basically a scam to begin with.
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    • ES_Revenge wrote: Never understood why you had to pay for the stupid card to begin with. It's like if you were to go buy a gift card somewhere, first having to buy the card for $5 and then putting in whatever value you wanted to buy :rolleyes:

      Selling the cards is basically a scam to begin with.
      exactly! Vancouver, Montreal and NYC you put $10 on the card, there is $10 on the card, no fees. The cards are free. I have no idea why in Toronto we have to pay an additional $6 for the cost of a card. My OG green card broke last night, so I had to go to a gate agent to switch the balance to a new card (they could do it) however they wanted (i did have to) pay $6 for the replacement card!
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    • mattshroom wrote: exactly! Vancouver, Montreal and NYC you put $10 on the card, there is $10 on the card, no fees. The cards are free.
      Not exactly. In Vancouver a new Compass card costs $6 (refundable) and in NYC a new Metrocard costs $1
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    • You have Metrolinx and the Presto team to thank for that.
      mattshroom wrote: exactly! Vancouver, Montreal and NYC you put $10 on the card, there is $10 on the card, no fees. The cards are free. I have no idea why in Toronto we have to pay an additional $6 for the cost of a card. My OG green card broke last night, so I had to go to a gate agent to switch the balance to a new card (they could do it) however they wanted (i did have to) pay $6 for the replacement card!
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    • ES_Revenge wrote: Never understood why you had to pay for the stupid card to begin with. It's like if you were to go buy a gift card somewhere, first having to buy the card for $5 and then putting in whatever value you wanted to buy :rolleyes:

      Selling the cards is basically a scam to begin with.
      I remember on the news years ago they were asking why you have to pay for the presto card and from what I remember the person said the costs for producing/maintaining the card, no party wanted to pay for. So at the end, it sounds they put the cost directly on the user. I don't necessarily agree with it but thats just the way it goes. When you got so many parties involved, TTC/Go Transit, etc. They are all going to refuse to pay costs and try to push the buck onto someone else. Remember the discount Go Transit users got when they rode on the Go Train and they got to go on the TTC for only $1.50 or something like that ? The TTC complained they lost money on that so they ended the subsidy.

      To be honest, we all have to pay for those plastic/gift cards one way or another. Every time I go and buy a Cadillac Fairview gift card at Christmas, the customer service rep always says to me before completing the transaction am I okay with the service fee ? I was always caught off guard when they asked for $1.25 or whatever fee it was. I don't like it but there is little I can do about it.
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    • Fare inspectors were giving some out at Main St station in the afternoon.
      Managed to grab 2 of them.
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    • Went to a few stn east of Broadview with empty hand.
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    • They were at Main St station again today at around 8pm.
      I didnt see them give any out and I didnt ask for any this time.
      Seemed like they had about 20 in their hand. I would say next time you see a fare inspector, just ask them if they have any.

      Has anyone noticed any stations giving out free masks?
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    • Free masks given away at union station at around 2pm today.
      It was the disposable blue masks. One person giving them away to people who didnt have them near the streetcar entrance and
      if you went to the information area inside ttc union, there were staff who had them behind a table.
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