Updated — May 4, 11:52 a.m.
BT has installed PRESTO equipment on all its buses and, on Monday, adults — passengers older than 21 but younger than 65 and all university or college students — can start using PRESTO cards. Students younger than 19 years of age, children younger than 12 years old and seniors older than 65 will be able to use the cards this fall.
OT already had PRESTO card readers on some routes during a trial of the system that started on November 30. Starting Monday, adult passengers on all routes will be able to use the cards. (Oakville Transit also considers you to be an “adult” if you’re older than 19 or younger than 65.)
Meanwhile, GO Transit passengers can also use the cards to pay train fares — at Appleby GO Station, starting Tuesday, May 24, at Burlington GO Station, starting Monday, May 31 and at Aldershot GO Station, starting Monday, June 7. GO passengers already started using PRESTO at Bronte and Oakville Stations during last November’s trial of the system.
With a PRESTO card you’ll no longer have to ask the driver for a transfer ticket. PRESTO’s “smartcard” technology recognizes that you’re making a continuous trip each time you tap your card when you board a bus — and it allows you two hours to make connections.
Burlington and Oakville passengers can use their PRESTO cards to transfer between transit systems. However, you’ll still need a paper transfer slip, a pass or cash to connect with Hamilton Street Railway and Mississauga Transit buses — until the fall, when the HSR and MT join the program.
The Downtown Burlington Transit Terminal on John Street becomes a PRESTO service agency, also starting May 10. Oakville GO Station also becomes a PRESTO service agency on Monday, May 10, while Bronte GO Station is an agency on Monday, May 17. At a PRESTO service agency, you can:
- buy a PRESTO card
- electronically load value onto your PRESTO card (creating an “e-purse”).
- check the balance of your “e-purse” and a history of your various transactions using your card.
If you register your card at www.prestocard.ca, you can also
- “hotlist” your card in case you lose it or someone steals it;
- Unblock a card if you find a card that you blocked earlier because you lost it. (Blocking prevents anyone from using the card and the “e-purse” it contains); and
- Settle any fees related to service charges or overdrafts from your “e-purse”.
If you live in Burlington, starting yesterday, Monday, May 3, you can buy a PRESTO card on-line at www.prestocard.ca. (You may have to wait as long as five business days before you receive your new card in the mail.) Starting Monday, May 10, you can also buy a card, load value onto the card and perform other actions with your card in person at all PRESTO service agencies in Burlington and Oakville. Soon, you’ll also be able to buy PRESTO cards at each of the three GO stations in Burlington as GO rolls the program out.
So how do these cards work?
When you you buy your card, you must load a minimum value of at least $10 into your e-purse. When you buy a new card, you’ll also have to pay an issuance fee of $6. (You can think of this fee as a deposit, because the cards are expensive and contain a lot of circuitry to make them work.)
At any time, your e-purse has “a maximum load value cap” of $320 — meaning that you can never have any more than $320 in your “e-purse”. You can load value onto your card using cash, debit or credit at a service agency during operating hours. You can also load value can onto your card on-line at www.prestocard.ca
Every time you tap your card onto a PRESTO fare payment reader whenever you board a bus, the reader displays the fare for your ride and the balance on your card. You’ll also find PRESTO “Balance Checkers” at the service agencies in Burlington and Oakville. If you’re a registered card holder, you can also check your balance on-line at www.prestocard.ca.
Each time you ride Burlington or Oakville Transit buses and tap your card onto the reader, you’ll reduce the amount of money in your e-purse by the cost of an adult fare. After 36 full-fare rides in the same month, your fare is free for the rest of that month.
You can’t use your card to pay the fare of someone who’s traveling with you. To avoid accidental taps and double payments, the PRESTO card has a 15-minute period after you’ve tapped it when it will not register another fare.
PRESTO is an easy-to-use fare card that lets you travel on and between several transit systems with a simple tap of the card. The Government of Ontario is developing the PRESTO fare system with eight municipal transit systems in the Greater Toronto Area, Hamilton and Ottawa areas, and GO Transit.
Oakville Transit and GO Transit piloted PRESTO cards at Oakville and Bronte GO Stations, and on OT buses operating along the 22 Upper Glen Abbey, 32 Burloak North and 110 West Industrial North routes, starting Monday, November 30.
During the trial of the system, passengers could also use the cards at Union Station in Toronto and on TTC streetcars operating along two routes from Union Station: 509 Harbourfront and 510 Spadina.
GO Transit will roll out the system, station by station, along the 01 Lakeshore West train line throughout the spring and summer. And, it will also equip GO buses that serve the stations with PRESTO equipment as it outfits each station.
The TTC is installing PRESTO card readers at six subway stations: Bloor / Yonge, College, Dundas, Queen’s Park, St. George, St. Patrick also later this spring. (Some eagle-eyed Transit Toronto readers have already spotted the devices at College Station.)
Later this summer, PRESTO technology will appear in two more TTC stations — Kipling and Islington — while GO will start using PRESTO along the 21 Milton and 31 Georgetown train lines and on GO buses that serve stations along those lines.
By fall, look for the cards on Brampton Transit, Hamilton Street Railway and Mississauga Transit buses and in GO buses and trains in the 09 Lakeshore East, 61 Richmond Hill and 65 Barrie corridors.
Early next year York Region Transit and Durham Region Transit will have their turn, while GO will finish “PRESTO-readying” its network of trains and buses by installing the system along the 71 Stouffville train line and any remaining bus routes.
A smartcard is any pocket-sized card with embedded integrated circuits which can process data.