TTC streetcar debit

TTC removing debit and credit card readers from streetcars

Once upon a time, back when the mention of Toronto's soon-to-be-standard fare payment system PRESTO inspired more curious optimism than exasperated eyerolls, the TTC announced that riders would soon be able to use debit and credit cards aboard the streetcar.

Torontonians were thrilled to learn that their city's public transit provider was finally getting with the times. It was 2011, after all. Who even used cash anymore?

A lot has happened since then in the world of cashless payment systems. So much so, it seems, that the fare machines on TTC streetcars can no longer handle debit or credit cards without breaking.

TTC users have been able to pay for single rides with their debit and credit cards since 2014, when Toronto started rolling out its new low-floor streetcars—but only when the on-board Fares and Transfers Machines were actually up and running.

Now, in December of 2018, PRESTO is modifying those notoriously unreliable machines in an effort to make them work more often.

The regional transit agency says it hopes to do this by removing the debit and credit card payment options altogether.

"Between now and December 20, the debit/credit payment options are being removed from the Fares and Transfers Machines on our low floor streetcars as they were causing the machines to be unreliable," reads a Monday evening announcement from the TTC. 

"Customers are encouraged to switch to PRESTO or pay their fare by cash, ticket or token," continued the transit commission, which has said it will stop accepting these forms of payment by the end of next year.

This means that, by 2019, the only card you'll be able to use aboard a Toronto streetcar is a PRESTO card. You can still use debit and credit at PRESTO's self-serve reload machines, however, as well as at collector booths in TTC subway stations (while they still exist).

TTC spokesperson Stuart Green said that this "difficult decision" was made by both the TTC and Metrolinx after looking at various options and conducting tests.

Contractors for PRESTO will be working to modify the machines on-board over next few weeks, he says, as they own the devices and infrastructure.

PRESTO will also "be working up the long-term solutions" to this problem, according to Green, so... be prepared for some hiccups... and start hoarding your coins for the TTC if you don't have a Presto card.

It's not like you need change for say, vending machines, or to buy hot dogs from remote concession stands on the Islands or anything these days. Not when you can simply tap your debit card against a tiny box.

Lead photo by

Lauren O'Neil


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